CALIFORNIA SARDINE

THE CALIFORNIA SARDINE INDUSTRY



                                              
      CASE NUMBER:   322
      CASE MNEMONIC: SARDINE  
      CASE NAME:     CALIFORNIA SARDINE INDUSTRY  
  
A.        Identification 

1.        The issue

     The coastal area extending from the Baja of California to
British Columbia is the one of the most productive type of fishing
areas in existence. In this area, the northern Pacific California 
current collides with the abrupt coastal shelf of Pacific North
America. This collision brings the cooler waters of the sub-surface
current to the surface. This upwelling brings with it the
microscopic organisms that are the base of life in the sea. The
availability of phytoplankton in this system provides the
foundation for a profusion of life further up the food chain,
including animals such as the sardine. Starting in the early
1900's, the harvesting and processing of the California 
sardine in Pacific North America became a major industry. Because
of over fishing and natural variations in water temperature, the
sardine populations of the area declined until it was no longer 
economical to fish sardines in Pacific North America. 
 
2.   Description

     Coastal upwellings exist where sub-surface  oceanic currents
meet a land area with little or no continental shelf. The cool
waters of the deep current are forced to the surface, stirring up
the nutrient rich diatom particles that settle out when organic
matter in the ocean dies and decays. These diatoms are fed upon by
phytoplankton which exist in abundance in coastal upwelling zones.
Small fish such as the sardine and the anchovy, which filter feed
on phytoplankton, exist in large biomass where phtoplankton
thrives(1). Still larger fish feed on the small anchovies and
sardines resulting in a vast biosystem with a great diversity of 
sea life. This type of biosystem is so productive that coastal
upwellings account for almost one half of the world's total
commercial fishing catch. These areas are 66,000 times more
productive per unit area in terms of fish yield(2).

     The Peruvian current is the most biologically productive
example of a coastal upwelling zone. The Peruvian current is the
basis of the bio-system, which produces carbon levels (a measure of
the life giving potential for the region) tens of times higher than
those in the California current. In Peru the coastal upwelling
provides the natural resources for the fish meal industry, which is
second only to copper in terms of percentage of Peru's GDP.  The
northwest and southwest African coasts, driven by the Canary and
Benguela currents, are also examples of productive coastal
upwelling zones. 

     The stretch of North American coast extending from the tip of
the Baja of California to British Columbia is an example of a
coastal upwelling system. The clockwise rotating California
Current, which is the result of both the jetstream and the rotation
of the earth, collides with the abrupt continental shelf of North
America. This provides the cool water and diatoms that are
essential for a coastal upwelling bio-system. In the California
current there exists two species of small fish competing for the
phytoplankton, the sardine and the anchovy. The California sardine
is a higher quality fish than the anchovy, because of it's more
edible portion, and therefore was the first and primary species of
exploitation in California. The sardine is suitable for human
consumption and for reduction into fish meal, while the anchovy of
the region is only fit for reduction into fish meal.     

     The profitability of coastal upwelling is reflected in the
boom town mentality of the area once this natural resource began to
be exploited. The Steinbeck novel Cannery Row is based on the rush
to develop the California sardine industry. The profitability of
this resource led to the over exploitation and possibly to the
eventual demise of the industry. 

     The fishing of sardines in the North American Pacific began as
an off season activity for tuna and squid fishermen in the early
1900's. Fishermen quickly came to the realization that fish being
caught off  the California coast were of  high quality compared
with the French and Norwegian sardine. The original market for
Pacific sardines was in canned fish. The high quality of the fish
and its relative availability made the California sardine
competitive with the other sardines on the market. The secondary
product made from the left over heads, viscera and spoiled fish was
fish meal. Fish meal is a high protein ingredient in both livestock
feed and fertilizer. It was beneficial to the growing livestock and
agricultural industries of California to have available a large
supply of inexpensive feed and fertilizer. The demand for fish meal
and canned fish led to an escalation of the amount of fish being
taken from 16,000 tons in 1917 to 70,000 tons in 1918. (3) The take
of California sardines continued to grow until its peak in the
1936-37 season when 790, 000 tons were fished. (4) 
      
     As the agricultural sector of the California economy grew so
did the need for fertilizer and animal feed. To satisfy the growing
demand for the fish meal, canneries began using entire fish for
reduction rather than just the byproducts. To prevent the waste of 
consumable fish the California legislature passed a law prohibiting
the use of edible fish for reduction into fish meal. This human
consumption law cut jeopardized the profitability of fish meal
reduction for the California canneries. The canneries claimed
increasing amounts of sardines unfit for human consumption that
made them  available for reduction into fish meal. The legislature
saw this as a circumvention of the state laws and decreed that
permission  must be granted by the California Fish and Game
Commission for any fish to be reduced into fish meal. This
positioned the sardine industry and the regulatory agency as
adversaries regarding the management of the California sardine.
This would be the case until the eventual demise of the industry.
(5)

     The industry used a variety of means to sidestep the human
consumption law which limited the amount of sardines that could be
reduced into fish meal. Some canneries set up reduction factories
at sea. These reduction ships operated beyond the three-mile
jurisdiction of California state waters and were not subject to the
California state regulation. These ships were disliked by the on
shore canneries and reduction plants that claimed offshore
operations would leave no fish for their vessels and factories.
They appealed to the federal government for restrictions on this
type of operation but were dismissed. (6) The on-shore reduction
plants had their own methods of avoiding the human consumption law.
The canneries claimed that because the catch varied from day-to-day
and  large catches were sometimes greater than the capacity of the
factories. As a result, some fish had to be used for reduction or
they would go to waste. These arguments found sympathy within the
California Fish and Game Commission who recommended allowing 25% of
a given catch to be reduced to fish meal if it could be proven that
there was no other market for the sardines. (7)

     By 1920 arguments were being made that the California sardine
was being over-fished. By this point  the sardine industry had
grown and its interest groups had become influential and warnings
of species depletion went unaddressed. Recent research into the
maximum sustainable yield for the California sardine during its
peak exploitation places estimates a full 20% less than those
amounts which were realized during this period. (8) 

     A report by the California Fish and Game Commission in 1931
said that the coastal upwelling near California was being over
fished. As the industry expanded efforts to increase take, no
increases in the harvest were realized. This was evidence according
to the California Fish and Game Commission, that the industry had
reached its productive limits and that the sardine population was
on the decline. The Commission proposed limits on the take of
sardines of 200,000 tons per year. The industry with its
substantial interest,  brought scientists to testify that the
change in the sardine population was due to natural changes in
ocean temperature and not to over fishing. The California
legislature rejected the arguments of the state's own bureaucracy
in favor of those of  the industry and rejected the proposal for
limits on sardine take. (9)

     The take for the sardine industry reached its peak in the
1936-37 season when 790,000 tons of sardines were removed from the
waters near British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California.
This amount was many times the amount that scientists recently
estimated to be the maximum sustainable yield of 250,000 tons. It
is held by ecologists that if the maximum sustainable yield of
250,000 to 300,000 tons per year had been observed, the sardine
industry would still be viable. (10)

     In 1938 the federal government stepped in and made
recommendations for the future of the California sardine industry.
The US Bureau of Fisheries recommended that the offshore reduction
plants be regulated by the proximate state.  This led to the end of
the offshore reduction plants, as the owners of these facilities
anticipated federal legislation regulating their activities. (11)
Unlike the California Fish and Game Commission, the US Bureau sided
with the industry, and supported its claims that the changes in the
sardine population were due to natural causes rather than over
fishing. These claims were based upon evidence that the temperature
of the water of the Pacific coast had dropped below levels optimal
for the survival of the sardine.

       In the years following the record take of the 1936-37 season
the annual landings gradually declined. By the 1951-52 season the
take had been decreased to only 145,000 tons, only a fraction of
its peak production. (12) It was clear by this point that the
population of the California sardine was on the decline. What was
not clear, at least in the minds of legislators, was the cause of
this decline in fish population. Scientists from the California
Fish and Game Commission, as well as most others saw over fishing
to be the most likely cause of the reduction in the population of
the sardine. However the influential sardine industry lobby, with
the support of the US Department of Fisheries, was able to present
scientists to testify that the fluctuations in population were the
result of natural phenomenon and not the result of any human
impact.       
     
     In the early 1950's the bottom fell out of the California
sardine industry. There is a significant amount of research that
suggests that over fishing of the California sardine had
significantly changed the age structure of the population. Without
a significant amount of reproductive aged adults the sardine was
unable to maintain its numbers as fishing continued. Research 
points to the failed spawnings of 1949 and 1950 as the cause of the
collapse of the sardine population in the pacific North America.
Since the age range of the population had been altered, the
failures in reproduction in those two years were critical and
resulted in a serious decline in the quantity of the species. There
were no longer sufficent reproductive class populations to continue
the population. The failed spawnings of those years would not have
been so critical had the sardine been fished at sustainable levels.
(13)

     During the 1952-53 season the catch of sardines along the
Pacific Coast dropped to only 14,873 tons. This was truly the end
of the California sardine industry. It was no longer profitable to
exploit this natural resource on such a small scale. The labor
force which supported this industry was forced to find employment
in other areas. Some of the capital equipment used in the
California sardine industry was sold to the newly developed and
rapidly expanding Peruvian anchovy industry. While the remainder
concentrated on the establishment of California's own anchovy
industry.

     The seasonal take of California sardines has never exceeded
100,000 tons since the 1951-52 season with one exception.  During
the 1958-59 season the California sardine made a modest comeback.
In one year the take of sardines grew from 22,000 tons in 1957-58
to 102,000 tons in the next season. The composition of this year
class consisted mainly of two year old fish. This is the result of
a successful spawning in 1956 which was due mainly to the warming
of the California Current during the final months of the spawning
period of 1956. (14)

     A joint effort was launched in 1957 by the three primary
agencies concerned with the California sardine industry; The
California Fish and Game Commission, the US bureau of Fisheries,
and the Scripps institute.  This organization known as  California
Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) set out to
reach  a consensus on the cause of the decline in the California
sardine population. (15) A report issued by the CalCOFI in 1960
stated:           
          
     Over the last decade...events have been concurrent with the
onset and persistence of uniformly cold water in the California
Current, the result of vigorous upwelling and stronger southward
flow. This could have had an effect on population size, and almost
certainly had an effect on the distribution of the sardine, that is
the cold water and increased flow could affect both population    
numbers and distribution. (16)
          
     The conclusions reached by the CalCOFI were not however the
final word. More recent research by Murphy in 1967 stated:
          
     Fishing was shown to be the most likely cause of the decline
of the [California sardine] population from a level yielding
approximately 600,000 short tons annually during the period
1935-45, to the 1955-65 period, when catches averaged substantially
less then 100,000 short tons annually. (17) 
          
          Judging by these two varying perspectives, the long
running controversy regarding the true cause of the decline of the
California sardine population will not be settled without new
evidence. What is clear however is that even if the decline in
sardine population were  due to natural causes, the excessive
fishing in the area at least accelerated the process. 

     With a decline in the population of the California sardine
came an increase in the population of its primary competitor the
anchovy. This only added fuel to the controversy regarding the
cause of the decline in the sardine population. Those who claimed
that the reduction in the amount of sardines was caused by a
natural phenomenon,  ie. the change in water temperature saw this
as evidence supporting their view. Because the North Pacific
anchovy prefers water cooler than its cousin the sardine, the
growth of anchovy population reenforces the theory that the decline
in sardine population is due to climatic change. Those who claim
that over fishing was responsible for the reduction in the
population of sardine claim that the anchovy was simply filling the
void left by the over fished sardine. (18)      The landings of
California anchovy expanded as those of the California sardine
dwindled.  The industry grew from an annual take of 17,000 tons in
1965-66 to 120,000 tons in 1973-74. The increase in the population
of the anchovy due to both the reduction in the numbers of its
primary competitor the sardine and the decrease in average water
temperature off the pacific North American coast. The other factor
resulting in the increased take of California anchovies was the
reallocation of resources used in the sardine industry. While some
of the capital equipment was sold to the booming Peruvian anchovy
industry, most of the labor and equipment was redirected to the
California anchovy industry. 
     The California Fish and Game Commission took lessons from the
death of the sardine industry and enforced quotas based on
scientific research on the maximum sustainable yield for California
anchovies. The Commission adopted policies to pursue the objectives
of maintaining ample populations of sea life to insure the
continued existence, and to maintain these populations through
limits on both sport and commercial takes. The Commission went
further to declare a strong need to reach agreements on quotas with
the Mexican government. (19)      The California sardine case is an
example of why the government must regulate the use of natural
resources, which belong to us all, when they are exploited for
profit. When these types of endeavors are left to their own, the
bottom line and profitability are all that matter, even when it
threatens the continued existence of the industry itself. 

3.        Related Cases

     ANCHOVY case
     SALMON case
     LUMMI case
     SHRIMP case
     GILLNET case
     SHARK case
     GUANO case
     GALAPAG case
     DONUT case
     SQUID case
     URCHIN case
   
Key Words

(1): Trade Product       = Fish
(2): Bio-Geography       = Ocean
(3): Environmental Problem    = Species Loss Sea [SPLS]

4.        Draft Author: Kenneth Clark

B.   Legal Clusters

5.        Discourse and Status: Agreement and Complete

     California law was introduced to limit the amount of sardines
being made into fish meal. In addition the state sponsored research
into weather or not the fishing industry or natural causes were
responsible for the decreasing numbers of pacific sardines. In the
end it was too late, while the state and federal governments were
battling over the cause of the species depletion the species was
depleted.

6.        Forum and Scope: US  and Unilateral

7.        Decision Breadth: 1

     California law pertains only to California, however, the
species depletion effects the entire North American pacific coast. 

8.        Legal Standing: Law

C.        Geographic Cluster

9.        Geographic Locations

     a. Geographic Domain     : North America [NAMER]
     b. Geographic Site       : Western North America [WNAMER]    
   
     c. Geographic Impact     : USA

10.       Sub National Factors: Yes

          Laws were put in place to protect the pacific sardine
from over fishing at the state level. These laws were designed to
minimize the use of the sardine for fishmeal and promoting the use
of the sardine as a consumable food. The state and federal
governments competed in their research regarding the causes of the
species depletion. In the end the state had a greater interest in
the saving of the industry, although it was unable to do so. The
industry was able to by-pass the state regulations by moving the
reduction plants offshore, outside of California legal
jurisdiction.

11.       Type of Habitat: Ocean

D.        Trade Clusters

12.       Type of Measure: Regulatory Standard

13.       Direct  vs. Indirect Impacts: Direct

14.       Relation of Measure to Environment

     a. Directly related :    Yes Sardine
     b. Indirectly Related:   Yes Anchovy
     c. Not Related      :    No
     d. Process Related  :    Yes Species Loss Sea

15.       Trade Product Identification: Fish

16.       Economic Data 
     
17.       Degree of Competitive Impact:Low
     
18.       Industry Sector: Food

19.       Exporter and Importer: USA, and many

E.        Environment Clusters

20.       Environmental Problem Type:   Species Loss Sea [SPLS]

21.       Species Information

     Name      :Sardinops 
     Type
     Diversity      : Species no longer exists in significant
quantities due to over fishing      IUCN Status    : Endangered
     
     The sardine and other related fish make their habitat is
around coastal upwelling regions where microscopic phytoplankton
are abundant. Because the sardine and the anchovy are in direct
competition for food the loss of the sardine species has resulted
in an increase in the complimentary species the anchovy. The
anchovy is considered a lower quality of fish and is not suitable
for human consumption. 

22.       Impact and Effect: High and Product

23.       Urgency and Lifetime: Medium and 7-10 Years
     
     Because the sardine is no longer fished in the pacific US
there is no threat of extinction.

24.       Substitutes:    Like

     Other fish such as the anchovy can be used to make fishmeal.
However, the anchovy is considered a lower quality of fish and is
not suitable for human consumption. Other types of oil such as
linseed can replace fish oil. 

F.   Other Factors

25.       Culture: NO

26.       Trans-Border:Yes

27.       Human Rights: NO

28.       Relevant Literature

(See below.)
                                

                            References

1. Romulo Jordan Biology of the Anchoveta 1: Summary of the Present
Knowledge Preceding from the Workshop on the phenomenon Known as El
Nino. UNESCO: Guayaquil, Ecuador, 1974.

2. J. Dana Thompson Climate Upwelling and Biological Productivity
Resource Management and Environmental Uncertainty. Wiely: NY, NY
1981.

3. Tim D. Smith Scaling Fisheries: the Science of Measuring the
Effects of Fishing, 1855-1955, Cambridge University Press:
Cambridge, UK 1994.

4. John Radovich The Collapse of the California Sardine Industry:
What Have We Learned? Resource Managment and Environmental
Uncertainty. Wiely: NY, NY 1981.

5. Tim D. Smith Scaling Fisheries: the Science of Measuring the
Efffects of Fishing, 1855-1955, Cambridge University Press:
Cambridge, UK 1994.

6. IBID

7. John Radovich The Colapse of theCalifornia Sardine Industry:
What Have We Learned? Resource  Managment and Environmental
Uncertainty. Wiely: NY, NY 1981.

8. Garth I. Murphy Vital Statistics of the Pacific Sardine
(Sardinops Caerulea) and the Population  Consequences Ecology.
Volume 48, 1967. Duke University Press. 

9. Tim D. Smith Scaling Fisheries: the Science of Measuring the
Effects of Fishing, 1855-1955  Cambridge University Press:
Cambridge, UK 1994.

10. John Radovich The Colapse of theCalifornia Sardine Industry:
What Have We Learned? Resource  Managment and Environmental
Uncertainty. Wiley: NY, NY 1981.

11. IBID

12. IBID

13. Garth I. Murphy Vital Statistics of the Pacific Sardine
(Sardinops Caerulea) and the Population Consequences Ecology.
Volume 48, 1967. Duke University Press.

14.  Review of the Partial Resurgence of the Sardine Fishery During
the 1958-59 Season California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries
Investigations Volume 7, 1960.

15. John Radovich The Colapse of the California Sardine Industry:
What Have We Learned?   Resource Managment and Environmental
Uncertainty. Wiely: NY, NY 1981. 

16.Review of the Partial Resurgence of the Sardine Fishery During
the 1958-59 Season California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries
Investigations Volume 7, 1960.

 17.  Garth I. Murphy Vital Statistics of the Pacific Sardine
(Sardinops Caerulea) and the Population Consequences Ecology.
Volume 48, 1967. Duke University Press.

18. J. A. Gulland ed. Fish Population Dynamics Wiely: NY, NY 1977.

19 Robert G. Kaneen Anchovy Management Challenge California
Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations Reports Volume 19 ,
October 1977.      


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