Coastal Pelagic Species: Current Season Management

Species managed under the CPS FMP are categorized as actively managed (Pacific sardine and Pacific mackerel), monitored (market squid, jack mackerel, northern anchovy), or prohibited harvest (krill). In addition, there are two species classified as Ecosystem Component species (jacksmelt and Pacific herring), which are not subject to management measures.

Actively managed species are assessed more frequently than monitored stocks, and are classified as such based on biologically significant levels of catch, or biological or socioeconomic considerations requiring relatively intense harvest management procedures. Monitored stocks are typically less significant to the fishery, with abundance indices considered to be sufficient to manage the stock. Once harvest specifications are established, they remain in place until the Council chooses to re-visit allowable harvest or other management measures. Stocks may be moved between categories on short notice, based on socio-economic or conservation concerns.

Pacific sardine

The directed fishery for Pacific sardine has been closed since July 1, 2015, because the estimated biomass has been below the Cutoff value of 150,000 metric tons.  There is an incidental allowance for sardine harvested in other CPS fisheries, and small-scale directed fishing can also take place, consistent with Amendment 16 to the CPS FMP.  See the Council’s April 2019 decision document pages 1-2 for current management details.

The April 2019 Pacific sardine stock assessment indicated an estimated biomass of 27,000 metric tons.  This is below the overfished threshold of 50,000 mt, meaning that the stock will be declared overfished by NMFS, and the Council must develop a rebuilding plan within two years.


Pacific mackerel

The Council adopted a new benchmark stock assessment, and set annual harvest specifications in June 2019, for two consecutive years. See the Council’s June 2019 decision document, pages 1-2 for current management details.  The biomass estimate and associated harvest specifications are both down from 2017, but still substantially above recent catches.


Monitored Stocks

Jack Mackerel & Northern Anchovy

Jack mackerel and northern anchovy (both the central subpopulation and the northern subpopulation) are caught in relatively small amounts.  Harvest specifications were set when Amendment 13 was adopted, in 2011):

Jack mackerel 126,000 mt 31,000 mt Equal to ABC
Northern anchovy, northern subpopulation 39,000 mt 9,750 mt Equal to ABC 1,500 mt
Northern anchovy, central subpopulation 100,000 mt 25,000 mt Equal to ABC
Market squid Fmsy proxy resulting in Egg Esc ≥ 30% Fmsy proxy resulting in Egg Esc ≥ 30% Exempt


Market squid

In 2001, legislation transferred the authority for management of the market squid fishery to the California Fish and Game Commission (CFGC). Legislation required that the CFGC adopt a market squid fishery management plan (MSFMP) and regulations to protect and manage the resource. In August and December of 2004, the CFGC adopted the MSFMP, the environmental documentation, and the implementing regulations, which went into effect on March 28, 2005, just prior to the start of the 2005-2006 fishing season on April 1.

The goals of the MSFMP are to provide a framework that will be responsive to environmental and socioeconomic changes and to ensure long-term resource conservation and sustainability. The tools implemented to accomplish these goals include: (1) setting a seasonal catch limit of 107,048 mt (118,000 st) to prevent the fishery from over-expanding, (2) maintaining monitoring programs designed to evaluate the impact of the fishery on the resource, (3) continuing weekend closures that provide for periods of uninterrupted spawning, (4) continuing gear regulations regarding light shields and wattage used to attract squid, (5) establishing a restricted access program that includes provisions for initial entry into the fleet, permit types, permit fees, and permit transferability that produces a moderately productive and specialized fleet, and (6) creating a seabird closure restricting the use of attracting lights for commercial purposes in any waters of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Under this framework, the MSFMP provides the CFGC with specific guidelines for making management decisions.



Acronyms used in CPS Management
ABC acceptable biological catch
CFGC California Fish & Game Commission
CPS coastal pelagic species
CPSMT Coastal Pelagic Species Management Team
EFP experimental fishing permit
FMP fishery management plan
HG harvest guideline
MSFMP Market Squid Fishery Management Plan
MT metric tons
NMFS National Marine Fisheries Service
SAFE Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (document)