Scientists Find Extreme Forage Fish Populations are Natural, Likely Unavoidable
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Seafood News] - February 17, 2017
ANN ARBOR — California sardine stocks famously crashed in John Steinbeck's "Cannery Row." New research, building on previous since the late 1960s, shows in greater detail that such forage fish stocks have undergone boom-bust cycles for centuries, with at least three species off the U.S. West Coast repeatedly experiencing steep population increases followed by declines long before commercial fishing began.
Natural population fluctuations in Pacific sardine, northern anchovy and Pacific hake off California have been so common that the species were in collapsed condition 29 to 40 percent of the time over the 500-year period from A.D. 1000 to 1500, according to the study published online Feb. 9 in Geophysical Research Letters.
Using a long time series of fish scales deposited in low-oxygen, offshore sedimentary environments off Southern California, researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Michigan described such collapses as "an intrinsic property of some forage fish populations that should be expected ...
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