West Coast sardine collapse leads to fishing closure

(AP Photo/Noaki Schwartz)

Fisheries managers have decided to call off the West Coast sardine fishing season that starts in July because of rapidly dwindling numbers, hoping to save an iconic industry from the kind of collapse that hit in the 1940s and lasted 50 years.

Meeting outside Santa Rosa, California, the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted Sunday to close the season starting July 1.

The council now is considering whether overfishing has been a factor in the latest collapse, which could trigger an emergency shutdown of the current season, which runs through June.

The once-thriving sardine industry crashed in the 1940s. It revived in the 1990s when fisheries developed in Oregon and Washington waters, but population estimates have been declining since 2006, and catch values since 2012. The reasons are not well-understood.
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