Forage fisheries

History Medieval herring fishing in Scania (published 1555). Herring has been known as a staple food source since 3000 B.C. In Roman times, anchovies were the base for the fermented fish sauce called garum. This staple of cuisine was produced in industrial quantities and transported over long distances. Fishing for sardela or sardina (Sardina pilchardus) is an ongoing activity on the Croatian Adriatic coasts of Dalmatia and Istria. It traces its roots back thousands of years. The region was then largely a Venetian dominion, part of the Roman Empire. The area has always been sustained through fishing mainly sardines. Along the coast towns still promote the traditional practice of fishing by lateen sail boats for tourism and festivals. Pilchard fishing and processing thrived in Cornwall between 1750 and 1880, after which stocks went into an almost terminal decline. Recently (2007) stocks have been improving. The industry has featured in many works of art, including Stanhope Forbes and other Newlyn School artists. [edit]Contemporary This article is one of a series on Commercial fish Large pelagic billfish, bonito mackerel, salmon shark, tuna Forage anchovy, herring menhaden, sardine shad, sprat Demersal cod, eel, flatfish pollock, ray Mixed carp, tilapia Purse seine boats encircling a school of menhaden Commercial herring catch Traditional commercial fisheries were directed towards high value ocean predators such as cod, rockfish and tuna, rather than forage fish. As technologies developed, fisheries became so effective at locating and catching predator fish that many of the stocks collapsed. The industry compensated by turning to species lower in the food chain.[2] In former times, forage fish were more difficult to fish profitably, and were a small part of the global marine fisheries. But modern industrial fishing technologies have enabled the removal of increasing quantities. Industrial-scale forage fish fisheries need large scale landings of fish to return profits. They are dominated by a small number of corporate fishing and processing companies.[5] Forage fish populations are very vulnerable when faced with modern fishing equipment. They swim near the surface in compacted schools, so they are relatively easy to locate at the surface with sophisticated electronic fishfinder and from above with spotter planes. Once located, they are scooped out of the water using highly efficient nets, such as purse seines, which remove most of the school. Spawning patterns in forage fish are highly predictable. Some fisheries use knowledge of these patterns to harvest the forage species as they come together to spawn, removing the fish before they have actually spawned.[2] Fishing during spawning periods or at other times when forage fish amass in large numbers can also be a blow to predators. Many predators, such as whales, tuna and sharks, have evolved to migrate long distances to specific sites for feeding and breeding. Their survival hinges on their finding these forage schools at their feeding grounds. The great ocean predators find that, no matter how they are adapted for speed, size, endurance or stealth, they are on the losing side when faced with the machinery of contemporary industrial fishing.[2] Altogether, forage fish account for 37 percent (31.5 million tonnes) of all fish taken from the world's oceans each year. However, because there are fewer species of forage fish compared to predator fish, forage species fisheries are the largest in the world. Seven of the top ten fisheries target forage fish.[5] The total world catch of herrings, sardines and anchovies alone in 2005 was 22.4 million tonnes, 24 percent of the total world catch.[19] The Peruvian anchoveta fishery is now the biggest in the world (10.7 million tonnes in 2004), while the Alaskan pollock fishery in the Bering Sea is the largest single species fishery in the world (3 million tonnes). The Alaskan pollock is said to be the largest remaining single species source of palatable fish in the world.[20] However, the biomass of pollock has declined in recent years, perhaps spelling trouble for both the Bering Sea ecosystem and the commercial fishery it supports. Acoustic surveys by NOAA indicate that the 2008 pollock population is almost 50 percent lower than last year's survey levels.[citation needed] Some scientists think this decline in Alaska pollock could repeat the collapse experienced by Atlantic cod, which could have negative consequences for the entire Bering Sea ecosystem. Salmon, halibut, endangered Steller sea lions, fur seals, and humpback whales eat pollock and depend on healthy populations to sustain themselves.