Monterrey sardine, Sardinops sagax. (Photo: NOAA)
US and Mexico to define criteria for catching sardines
Wednesday, June 22, 2016, 22:20 (GMT + 9)
A study on populations of sardines (Sardinops sagax) that inhabit the waters of Baja California could be crucial to define the guidelines for capture, care and sustainability of the species to be agreed by the governments of Mexico and the United States.
Interviewed by the News Agency Conacyt, study author Norma Laura Lucio Martinez, a researcher at the Coastal Research and Development Centre (CIDECO), said that for the evaluation samples were taken during 2012, 2013 and 2014, to carry out comparisons.
The researcher explained that there is concern by the US government to establish fishing quotas for catching sardines. This is because in Mexico it is performed under the size criteria, and the study shows the sector that Baja California takes advantage of a shared reserve that makes it impossible to set quotas.
To determine that the sardine populations living in Baja California are mixed with various groups that migrate along the California current, an otolith analysis was performed.
The otoliths are bones found in the front part of the sardine, which makes it possible to see what part of the California current the sardine comes from through rings that get marked similarly to those on the trunks of the trees.
The researcher explained that the distribution of the Monterrey sardine ranges from Canada to Baja California Sur, and there are three main populations that migrate for food, except for the southern one.
"With these three populations that are identified, rings are being deposited and finally if they are caught off Ensenada and the otoliths are identified by microscope, by measuring the proportions it is possible to know their age and where this species was born. This is how the study was conducted, by measuring the otoliths, sizes and also by making comparisons with weight and size," she explained.
With regard to capture policies, Lucio Martinez said that through the Tri-National Sardine Forum, researchers, producers and government officials discuss capture guidelines as well as those for the care and sustainability of the species.
"In the United States it has been said that quotas must be established, which is how they perform their capture; in Mexico it is not managed through catch volumes but by size, being the minimum catch size 15 centimetres because it is said to be the size in which at least the specimen has already spawned once," she explained.
Through the same forum, the results of the research have been provided. They state the sardine population is migrating along the entire California Current, which confers the study a direct link with the productive sector.
"As the population can not be controlled so that it does not move, the population belongs to both countries, then it is a shared resource, we identify that it could have been in any of the two countries where the species was born," concluded the researcher.