West Coast sardine collapse leads to fishing closure

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Sardines. From Getty Images.

CANNON BEACH — Federal fisheries managers have followed through on expectations they would shut down the West Coast’s upcoming sardine commercial fishing season because of rapidly declining numbers.

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

Geoff Shester of the conservation group Oceana says the next step is deciding whether overfishing is a factor. That could lead to shutting down the rest of the current season, which runs through June 30.

Sardines regularly go through huge population swings. A major collapse in the 1940s took down the sardine industry in Monterey, California, made famous by the John Steinbeck novel Cannery Row. It did not rebound until the 1990s. Most of the West Coast catch is now exported to Asia.

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