The Pacific Fishery Management Council should use science to set catch limits on anchovy.
By: Dr. Sylvia Earle When most of us think of the ocean, we think big: It covers 71 percent of our planet, dictates our weather, and is home to the tallest mountain and deepest canyon on the planet, as well as the largest animal, the blue whale.
And yet the ocean relies on its smallest inhabitants, from the phytoplankton and zooplankton that underpin the food web to forage fish, species like sardines, herring, and anchovy that are often referred to as baitfish.
In recent years, numbers of some forage fish species have declined dramatically, causing a food shortage for a vast array of marine animals. The Pacific marine ecosystem, including right here in the San Francisco Bay, is already suffering the consequences, with well-publicized accounts of starving sea lion pups and brown pelican breeding failures among the most visible evidence.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council, which oversees 300,000 square miles of ocean waters off the California, Oregon, and Washington coasts has passed catch limits to protect some forage fish but has unfortunately been remiss on protecting one of the most critical—anchovy.…