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Resource Issues: Fishing and Harvesting

Overview of the issue

Fishing and harvesting are a part of the region's history, culture and economy. With more than 500 commercial vessels and numerous recreational fishers, fishing in the region annually takes about 200 species, with the bulk of the commercial landings composed of squid, rockfishes, salmon, albacore, Dover sole, sablefish, mackerel, anchovy, and sardines. The five primary gear types used are pots and traps, trawl nets, hook-and-line gear, purse seines, and gill nets. In 2007, 560 fishing vessels made commercial landings at the five main ports in or adjacent to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary: Princeton/Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Moss Landing, Monterey, or Morro Bay (CDFG).

fishing boatHow is the Sanctuary involved?

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary does not directly manage any aspect of commercial or recreational fisheries. Fishing in state waters (usually 0-3 nautical miles from shore) is generally managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife The responsibility for managing fishing in federal waters (beyond 3 miles) rests with NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC). In 2008, NOAA issued a report that provided an overview of NOAA's process for regulating fisheries in sanctuary waters as mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the National Marine Sanctuaries Act. Current involvement of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in issues related to fishing includes conducting fisheries-related research, sponsoring educational events and programs (Voices of the Bay, Fishermen in the Classroom and Local Catch Monterey Bay), commenting to other agencies on fishery and ecosystem management issues, and the development of ecosystem protection plans related to fishing such as the Effects of Trawling on Benthic Habitats Action Plan and the Fishing Related Education and Research Action Plan.

As part of the MBNMS' Effects of Trawling on Benthic Habitats Action Plan, the sanctuary has been working with fisheries management agencies to compile information on the history of trawling activity in the sanctuary, along with the state and federal regulations that apply to this activity in sanctuary waters. Sanctuary staff partnered with researchers to study the impacts of benthic trawling on seafloor habitats and associated benthic fauna in central California (de Marignac et al. 2009). The Monterey Bay Sanctuary has also partnered with The Nature Conservancy, NMFS, and California State University Monterey Bay to study the impacts of modified groundfish trawling practices on soft seafloor habitats and the time it takes for seafloor habitats to recover from trawling (Lindholm et al. 2013).

There is a need to increase the public's understanding of fishes, their role in the ecosystem, the various fishing activities that occur in the sanctuary, and how they are managed. The MBNMS' Fishing-Related Education and Research Action Plan provides strategies to expand the knowledge base of the public about fishery management in the sanctuary and increase public education about sustainable fisheries. There has traditionally been a lack of fishermen involvement in research activities related to fish populations in the sanctuary. This action plan addresses that issue by providing a mechanism to bring their knowledge and data into the pool of information used in resource management and decision-making.

As directed by NOAA's process for regulating fisheries, MBNMS has successfully collaborated on a number of fishery related issues with the PFMC and NMFS. Successful collaborations include the implementation of a prohibition on white sharks within three nautical miles offshore in 1997, recommending restrictions on kelp harvesting in 2000, protecting the seafloor habitats of the Davidson Seamount through Essential Fish Habitat designation in 2006, and partnering to ban krill harvesting along the west coast in 2009.

Specific Fishing Topics:

Forage Species

Forage Species: Sardines, anchovies, herring and mackerel are just some of the forage species that are important food sources in the ocean. These species form a critical link to larger species of fishes and marine mammals within the MBNMS.

Northern Anchovy  Photo

Krill Harvesting

Krill Harvesting: Krill provide an important food source and are prohibited from being harvested along the west coast and within the MBNMS.
krill photo

Kelp Harvesting

Kelp Harvesting: Kelp forests are an enduring icon of the central coast of California while providing habitat for many species. Kelp harvesting within the sanctuary has always been on a modest scale and continues to be so.

bags of harvested kelp


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Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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