By Theresa Labriola –
Thanks to everyone who signed our petition asking the Pacific Fishery Management Council to initiate a process for developing a forage status indicator. In June, I traveled to the Council meeting in Garden Grove, California to hand deliver your petition to the Council. While there, I presented testimony on behalf of Wild Oceans, thanked the Council for passing the Fishery Ecosystem Plan, and asked the Council to monitor the strength of the overall west coast forage base as an indicator of the ecosystem’s health. I also had a chance to talk one-on-one with Council members about my recent meetings with fishing clubs and Wild Ocean’s members who understand the vital link forage play in the California Current ecosystem.
Wild Oceans also submitted a detailed comment letter recommending two potential paths forward for development of a forage base indicator. We asked the Council to either organize a workshop on incorporating Integrated Ecosystem Assessment results into the Council process or task the Ecosystem Initiative 1 Ad-Hoc Committee to begin laying the groundwork for an index of forage status.
So, what’s next? I’ll simultaneously monitor NOAA’s development of the Integrated Ecosystem Assessment and the Council’s implementation of the Fishery Ecosystem Plan to make sure the Council keeps forage and the development of a forage indicator on the priority list. I’ll let you know how you can get involved to help make this happen. It’s still too common to think that forage are infinite in number, and with your help, we can keep policy-makers on a path that will safeguard the ocean food web.