Target: Donald McIsaac, Executive Director of the Pacific Fishery Management Council
Goal: Ask leaders to protect salmon ecosystems by protecting the populations of their prey
At a meeting of the Pacific Fishery Management Council this week, leaders will determine limits for ocean salmon fishing. More importantly, the council will discuss a comprehensive protection plan for the entire salmon ecosystem. This includes protecting the food fish on which salmon sustain themselves, also known as “forage fish.” These fish feed not only salmon, but also a wide array of sea species in the Pacific Northwest region, including birds and mammals. Protecting these small schooling fish species became an issue in the 1950s when overfishing caused the American sardine industry to collapse entirely. Experts fear less common fish are in the most danger from overfishing.
Scientists know that the amount of salmon available to fishermen in the Pacific Northwest is directly related to the amount of forage fish available in the same area. The Pacific Fishery Management Council will discuss plans to protect small, lesser-known species of forage fish before fisheries develop plans to catch them in large quantities. If passed, protections will already be in place to save these vital species before a market grows for them. The hope is that this plan will prevent such species from being significantly overfished, as sardines were 60 years ago. This, in turn, will protect the salmon population at its root — its food source. Ask the Council to approve plans to protect forage fish in the Pacific Northwest.
Dear Mr. McIsaac,
As you know, the salmon population of the Pacific Northwest is directly dependent on the edible forage fish available in the same area. Forage fish also support a wide array of wildlife in and around the Pacific Ocean, including birds, mammals, and other food fish, including tuna. In order to protect the lucrative salmon industry, and the food it produces for the American public, the salmon population must of course be protected. However, to truly protect the salmon population, leaders must protect forage fish. These include not only sardines, which are well-known and popular in and of themselves, but also lesser-known schooling fish, like the sandlance and saury species.
Next week the Pacific Fishery Management Council will discuss plans to protect forage fish in a larger effort to manage the salmon population. I urge you to create a comprehensive plan to protect the entire salmon ecosystem, including forage fish therein, as you make your decisions at the Council.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Mathowie via Flickr