Thursday, February 12, 2015



File:Opisthonema oglinum.jpg
 Opisthonema oglinum from the Gulf of Mexico NOAA PHOTO

American Admiralty Books Safety & Privacy Policies 


"The Pacific herring is a coastal schooling species. They are found in large schools in depths from the surface to 1,300 feet (400 m). In addition to schooling, Pacific herring use counter shading for protection from predators. They are dark blue to olive on their backs shading to silver on their sides and belly, making them hard to see from above and below. They can reach 18 inches (46 cm) in length and weigh up to 1.2 pounds (550 g). Herring can live up to 19 years." Editor's note: Herring are vital to the near coastal ocean environments, to numerous coastal wildlife including eagles, bears, otters, sea birds, and larger fish. Herring also is widely consumed by humans both as a fish and its roe as caviar. The once superabundant herring is starting to show some signs of stress and so the Great Namazu wishes again to address his biped friends. Ladies and gentlemen .....the Great Namazu:

GREETINGS BIPEDS! For those of you who may not be familiar with me, my name is Namazu, the best known of a group of beings the Japanese people referred to as the Namazui. I was personally employed as a "demigod" supposedly in charge of coastal storms and tsunamis. I personally have never claimed to be anything other than simply a personification of certain forces of nature but during my tenure with the Japanese I was assigned, and did not choose the title of "demigod". When the Japanese turned to computer modeling for tidal and seismic forecasting I found myself unemployed for the first time in 3,000 years. That former title nearly cost me my first "civilian job" with American Admiralty Books when the American religious right objected to the employment of a "major pagan figure". However when I pointed out in print that I am in fact a monotheists but ineligible for Christian baptism due to being a giant catfish the objections were dropped and I now count many conservative Christians among my fans. Presently I am the senior maritime analyst for American Admiralty Books and Dean of the AAB's "Namazu School of Climatology" where we routinely examine issues of climate change, coastal zone management, coastal architecture and similar subjects. More infrequently I have addressed commercial fisheries issues. We have another fish writer "Beastie" a great white shark who shares the commercial fishing beat with me.

 My biped friends let me be straight with you for a moment. You eat fish and fish products. Beastie and I ; well, we eat fish, smaller fish to be sure but we eat fish. Mostly we have written to you in the past about biped depredations on man sized fish, a subject near and dear to our hearts. But today I find that recent developments require me to bring your attention to a small fish that bipeds and non bipeds share a great economic interest in, the humble little Pacific herring. There are some dangers becoming associated with the viability of this fishery and only you bipeds can actually take any kind of corrective action. So please read on as we continue to introduce you the Pacific herring and influence of this sturdy and utilitarian little fish on the world.


Editor's Note to learn more about the Great Catfish click on either of these links:

Continuing the background data from NOAA:

"Adult Pacific herring migrate inshore, entering estuaries to breed once per year, with timing varying by latitude. They do not feed from the start of this migration through spawning, a period of up to two weeks or so. The herring spawn in shallow areas along shorelines, between the subtidal and intertidal zones. Eggs are deposited on kelp, eelgrass (Zostera marina), and other available structures. After spawning, herring return to their summer feeding areas.

 It is generally thought that after hatching, herring larvae remain in near shore waters close to their spawning grounds where they feed and grow in the protective cover of shallow water habitats. After 2 to 3 months, the larvae metamorphose into juveniles. During the summer of their first year, these juveniles form schools in shallow bays, inlets and channels. These schools disappear in the fall and then move to deep water for the next 2 to 3 years.

Herring feed on phytoplankton and zooplankton in nutrient-rich waters associated with oceanic upwelling. Young feed mainly on crustaceans, but also eat decapod and mollusk larvae, whereas adults prey mainly on large crustaceans and small fishes. Although some mixing occurs, tagging studies show that Pacific herring stick together, remaining in the same school for years.


Pacific herring occur in coastal areas of the Pacific Ocean from the surface to depths of 1,300 feet (400 m).

Pacific Herring Range Map
(click for larger view PDF)


Pacific Herring have numerous populations throughout the North Pacific Ocean and adjacent seas.In the western North Pacific, they are found throughout the Western Bering Sea to Kamchatka, in the Sea of Okhotsk, around Hokkaido, Japan, and south and west to the Yellow Sea.In the eastern North Pacific Ocean, herring range from Baja California, Mexico, north to the Beaufort Sea, Alaska.Pacific herring are also found in the Russian Arctic from the Chukchi Sea to the White Sea." Source NOAA

This year (2015) for the second straight year the Canadian central government has moved to allow the taking of spawning herring by fishing net, despite objections by ichthyologists and First Nations people and even some commercial fishing groups. This dispute is part of a larger global debate over the management of some of the ocean's smallest individual fish that in schools form some of the most economically important commercial fisheries. These are the "Forage Fish"that form abundant schools creating easily exploitable sources of sea protein for predators and humans alike. Examples include but are not limited to sardines, smelt, anchovies, and herring. As abundant as these fish usually are modern fishing methods are capable of desiccating whole populations. These fish know no real national boundaries but are little addressed under present international migratory fishing treaties. Fish stocks such as tuna which are addressed under such treaties are subject to international inputs in global population and harvest management decisions annually and adjacent coastal states are given authority to enforce internationally recognized regulations. Presently most of the forage species are regulated by coastal state authorities as though they were local species.

The native peoples of the Pacific Northwest of both Canada and the United States are acutely aware of the broader environmental role of these forage species than their national fishery management authorities appear to be. Though clearly some within these fishery management administration sod clearly understand the larger environmental roles as this quote for a Canadian official study indicates:

"Ecologically essential Forage fishes are short-lived, highly productive, abundant, and are represented by only a few species in an ecosystem. Typically, their abundance varies considerably in time, influenced by environmental conditions and fishing. They play an important role in the ecosystem, being an essential link between planktonic production and higher trophic level predators. These species can be crucial as forage base for dependent predators, in determining the breeding success of marine birds and the condition and even reproductive capacity of mammals and fish predators (e.g. cod). Large decreases in the abundance of these species beyond normal fluctuations risk modifying the foodweb, changing energy pathways, in some cases, towards fewer species and ultimately to an alternate state from which it is difficult to recover." From: A review of the ecological role of forage fish and management strategies S. Guénette, G. Melvin, A. Bundy Science Branch, Maritimes Region Ocean and Ecosystem Sciences Division Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Scientists are starting to argue that too few governments take into account the essential role these forage fish play in marine systems before making critical catch quota and fishing methodology decisions. In other words the seasonal temporary economic health of local commercial fishing fleets are overshadowing sound biological reasoning in regulation. Herring, an energy-rich species that often swim close to shore and even far inland provide critical nutrition for sea birds to humpback whales, sea lions, sharks, larger fish, and even bears. Many commercial roe gatherers and some commercial fishermen join native peoples in decrying the use of certain types of nets and other "efficient" modern fishing techniques when it comes to harvesting a fair share of the forage species like herring for human consumption. Apparently for the last two years these voices of wisdom have been lost on Canada's regulators who instead of regulating the fishery for sustained yield appear to be treating commercial harvesting interests like "clients" or "customers" and are making decisions based on short term commercial fishing profits. This approach not only damages the fishery in the long term but eventually destroys the very customers the regulators are trying to please. The problem is not limited to the Canadian Pacific Coast. A description of the global nature of under regulation and over fishing of forage species was recently outlined in a NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC article:

"A Global Problem ( from a NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC article:)
In many places around the world, herring populations are quite healthy. Norwegian herring still support the globe's second largest fishing fleet.

But herring populations in other spots may be a mere fraction of what they once were. Archaeologists counting herring bones at 171 sites along North America's west coast recently found evidence they said suggested that the fish had been abundant for thousands of years. Modern herring stocks, on the other hand, swing wildly, and after a decline many don't roar back as fast or as high as they once did.

Herring populations outside Juneau, Alaska, crashed in 1982 and have never come back. Prince William Sound herring collapsed in 1993. Washington State's largest herring population has declined 90 percentsince 1973, and herring that used to live for ten years now rarely survive more than four.

These issues aren't limited to North American waters. Some Baltic Sea herring populations have fallen below their long-term average, and the fish are smaller and thinner than they used to be. North Sea herring are getting older as fewer young fish survive. One of Japan's largest herring populations has been too small to fish for several decades.

 Herring are a linchpin in the food chain," said Phil Levin, who oversees ecosystem sciences at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle. But throughout much of the Pacific, "what you see over and over is a pretty dramatic decline—there's less herring, they're smaller, and the older, bigger herring seem to be gone."

Scientists recently have started cataloging potential consequences.

In 2011, researchers found that everywhere they looked—the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific, or the seas around Antarctica—seabirds declined whenever forage fish numbers plummeted.

Last fall, scientists determined that diving seabirds like Western grebes or common murres, which depend on herring and other forage fish, are 16 times more likely to be dwindling than are birds that also eat other fish.

"There's obviously something going on with herring, and it's not good," said Ignacio Vilchis, formerly with the University of California, Davis, who led the seabird research."

I, Namazu want to take this opportunity to caution all bipeds to go lightly on the harvesting of forage fish generally. You bipeds are apex predators and should act like it eating larger species ( but please not us intelligent man sized creatures) and leaving the forage species to do their job of feeding the larger commercial and game species that bipeds usually prefer to consume. Here is another way to think about it, avoid feeding too close to the base of the food chain. Some of the tree hugging / save the whales types a few years ago were suggesting that bipeds should learn to harvest and eat krill because of its super abundance and take the pressure off of some of the larger commercially harvested fish. OK Bipeds news flash! If you eat krill you are taking the food out of the mouths of the species you have evolved eating. Leave the forage species to the predators they evolved with. Bipeds, you're an apex predator. It would be best for all of us if you ate like it and stayed away from the primary basis of the oceans food chains.

I said it, I meant it, and I'm here to represent it!


American Admiralty Books Safety & Privacy Policies 

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