Little sardines are a huge part of the ocean food web. Alarmingly, out in California industrial fishing operations are catching too many of these little fish and unbalancing the delicate ecosystem, resulting in starving sea lion pups along the Southern California coast. Over 1,600 sea lions were found stranded and malnourished last year, victims of a collapsing sardine fishery — and these strandings are continuing up and down the California coast.
Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warned of impending collapse back in 2012, but NOAA leadership made no move to stop the overfishing. Today, they're acknowledging the population collapse and its effects on sea lions, but they still refuse to admit that fishing is a primary cause. Without NOAA 1) acknowledging the problem and 2) establishing stronger regulations to restore sardine populations, overfishing will continue.
Pacific sardine numbers have dropped 74 percent in just seven years — two thirds of this decline was removed by the fishery. The sea lion deaths may just be the tip of the iceberg, as new evidence indicates sardines scarcity is leading to brown pelicans experiencing nesting failures.
Please, take action today to ask NOAA to acknowledge overfishing's role in the Pacific sardine collapse and act to curb
overfishing and restore the sardine population to its former abundance.
NOAA and Pacific Fishery Management Council:
I am shocked to hear about the Pacific sardine crash and its effect on sea lions and the coastal ecosystem. The 2014 NOAA Pacific sardine stock assessment concluded that the Pacific sardine population had crashed 74 percent since 2007 with no evidence of recovery.
NOAA leadership has also confirmed the stranding of over 1,600 California sea lions in 2013 was related to a lack of sardines available to nursing mothers and newly weaned pups, and continued high stranding rates again in 2014.
Yet there has been no official acknowledgment of the role overfishing played in the sardine crash, nor has NOAA presented any solutions to the problem.
I ask that you take immediate steps to restore the sardine population by acknowledging the role fishing has played in the collapse and setting up appropriate measures to allow the population to rebuild, including an immediate ban on sardine fishing until the stock recovers and is able to replenish itself.
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