Oceana has won a significant victory in the Pacific that will protect krill - small, shrimp-like crustaceans that many marine species rely on for food - from commercial fishing in that region.
Krill are a key component of the ocean eco-system. Many seabirds, whales and fish rely on krill. Wild salmon eat krill - it is what gives their flesh a healthy, pink hue. Krill are also the primary food source for the world's largest animal, the blue whale.
Unfortunately, some governments, including ours, were considering harvesting krill for commercial purposes like supplying fish food for salmon farms. Harvesting krill on such a large scale would take away the food source of wild fish, seabirds and whales, and would be catastrophic for the marine food web.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council - a regional body that determines many rules of the US fishing industry - adopted an amendment that will prohibit the commercial fishing of krill in federal waters off the coast of Washington, Oregon and California.
Recognizing the importance of krill to a healthy marine ecosystem, all West Coast states have already enacted legislation that prohibits commercial krill fishing in state waters - a move universally supported by scientists, environmentalists, commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen, whale watching businesses and many governmental marine resource managers.
The move by the Pacific Fishery Management Council expands those existing nearshore protections out to the 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone limit for the United States.
This is a tremendous step toward ecosystem-based fishery management. As Jim Ayers, Oceana's V.P. for the Pacific, stated: "Allowing commercial fishing for krill would not only be stealing from the marine food web, but also robbing our children of the ocean we've all come to know and love. We applaud the Council for their leadership and vision in preventing such a catastrophe." Click here for more information on krill.