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Monterey Bay : Researchers say a massive decline of the fish is throwing off the ecosystem

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Monterey Bay anchovy numbers in decline, groups say

By Samantha Clark

Santa Cruz Sentinel

Posted:   10/30/2015 12:32:04 PM PDT4 Comments | Updated:   19 days ago

Anchovies fill a hatch aboard the El Dorado as workers unload the fishing boat at the Moss Landing Harbor on October 16, 2015. The boat is owned by Frank

Anchovies fill a hatch aboard the El Dorado as workers unload the fishing boat at the Moss Landing Harbor on October 16, 2015. The boat is owned by Frank Aliotti Senior. (David Royal – Monterey Herald) ( David Royal )

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Frank Aliotti Jr. moves a vacuum hose while unloadin anchovies from the El… ( David Royal )

SANTA CRUZ — For at least the past three years, humpback whales have been putting on a show in the Monterey Bay. Feasting and frisking, the 40-foot-long, 40-ton leviathans create in dizzying displays.

Locals have never seen anything like it. But things have changed.

“Since late September, the whale numbers have decreased, their behavior has changed and their food, anchovies, are less abundant,” said Nancy Black, marine biologist and owner of Monterey Bay Whale Watch. “We were seeing carpets just thick of anchovies for almost a mile. Now all we’re seeing is spots.”

Whale watching tour companies and conservationists claim the anchovy population has “collapsed” due to environmental reasons so fishing limits remain too high.

 

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Plenty of anchovies in Monterey Bay, but maybe not elsewhere

A fisherman moves anchovies toward a vacuum tube inside the hatch aboard the El Dorado as workers unload the fishing boat at the Moss Landing Harbor on Friday. The boat is owned by Frank Aliotti Sr. David Royal — Monterey Herald

Monterey >> Things are shifting for fishermen in Monterey Bay.

Market squid are disappearing, and in their place, fishing boats are reeling in piles of anchovies.

But while they appear abundant, conservation groups warn that the forage fish may be at their lowest levels since the 1950s.

“It’s an anomalous year,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association. “Typically these are not the kind of oceanographic conditions that anchovy like. But they are here and they’re really close to shore, which is why we’re having a spectacular year for whale watching.”

Anchovies aren’t just bringing whales into the bay — they’re also attracting fishing fleets.

“There are thousands of tons,” said Sal Tringali, president of Monterey Fish Company, whose fishermen in Moss Landing are landing about 120 tons of anchovies each night and expect to do so for about another month. “There are all the anchovies you want out here.”

 

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California’s last anchovies crowd in the Monterey Bay

POSTED: 11:24 AM PDT Oct 21, 2015  UPDATED: 01:13 PM PDT Oct 21, 2015 

Anchovy shortage in Monterey bay

MOSS LANDING, Calif. – Several conservation groups and whale watching operators are very concerned about the anchovies in the Monterey Bay.

They’re worried they’re being over-fished, and want something to be done about it. Recently, fishermen have been hauling out 120 tons of anchovies every night, but those anchovies are some of the last along California’s coast.

Still, the groups want to make it clear they’re not against fishermen doing their job, they’re just concerned about a lack of data on the anchovy population and health.

Oceana’s Geoff Shester said there hasn’t been an analysis on anchovies in more than 20 years.

“The anchovy abundance out here, and off the entire state, has gotten to some of the lowest we’ve seen since the 1950s,” Shester said. “Scientists are calling it an actual collapse.”

Marine Biologist and Whale Watching Operator Nancy Black said marine animals and fishermen are both taking from the same source, driving down the anchovy population.

 

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