Pacific sardine fishery

Illustration: Pacific sardine

The Pacific sardine fishery is an opportunistic fishery dependent on the migration of sardines into Canadian waters. Sardine migration and population levels are heavily influenced by oceanic conditions that determine the survival and recruitment of juveniles into the adult stock. Ocean conditions off California have been favourable in recent years. It is anticipated that Pacific sardine stock size and production will be sufficient to support a moderate fishery in B.C. over the short and medium term.   From 1996 to 2001, there was a limited experimental harvest of Pacific sardines by a small number of harvesters. Given the results of the experimental fishing, and the de-listing of Pacific sardines by the Federal-Provincial Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in May 2002 as a species of “special concern”, the seine component of the fishery moved to a commercial phase in 2002 consistent with the New Emerging Fisheries policy (NEFP). A one-year interim plan was developed in 2002 using a precautionary approach while providing opportunity for continued assessment of the viability of the fishery and the potential for future expansion. An experimental/exploratory phase was initiated to investigate the feasibility of alternative gear types and areas.

From 2003 to 2006, the Department developed a three year fishing plan that allowed for an incremental approach to development of the fishery while continuing to follow the principles of the NEFP. Since 2007, the Department has developed an annual Integrated Fisheries Management Plan to support growth of the fishery.

There are a total of 50 licences for the Pacific sardine fishery (25 commercial and 25 communal commercial licences). All commercial harvest of Pacific sardine is currently made using purse seine gear. In recent years only 13 to 20 vessels have been active in any one year. Vessels are generally 60 – 70 feet in length with 4 - 5 crew members. The fishery is open from June 1 to February 9 each year and is managed by individual licence quotas. The majority of the harvest occurs from August to October.

Species information

Integrated fisheries management plan

Fishery information