Forage fish population flucuation infographic Credit: I.L. Hendy, University of Michigan; S. McClatchie, NOAA Fisheries; NMFS Image Library.
Anchovy, sardine and hake scale deposition rate from AD 1000-1500 derived from a recent, age-calibrated sediment core from Santa Barbara Basin, Cal. Representative fish scales and the respective species are shown on the right.

New methods further discern extreme fluctuations in forage fish populations

Study concludes forage fish are well suited to variable fishing rates that target the species in times of abundance.

California sardine stocks famously crashed in John Steinbeck's book Cannery Row. New research that builds on the pioneering work of Soutar and Isaacs in the late 1960s and others shows in greater detail that such forage fish stocks have undergone boom/bust cycles for centuries, with at least three species off the U.S. West Coast repeatedly experiencing steep population increases and subsequent declines long before commercial fishing began.

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