A conservation plan for Puget Sound Rockfish

May 20, 2010

To the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife:

As a seafood retailer, we’re writing to support the Revised Puget Sound Rockfish Conservation Plan. With nine stores and $145 million in annual sales, PCC is committed to sustainable food systems. Sustainable seafood is an integral part of this mission.

We understand Puget Sound is vulnerable to many environmental threats — acidification, polluted storm water, pesticides, plastics, and aquaculture feedlots. Four salmon farms south of Bainbridge Island continue to allow untreated fish waste, equal to 830,000 city residents, to flush directly into Puget Sound.

It is alarming that scientists have declared Puget Sound the most depressed fishery in North America. It is disheartening that Washington has more endangered marine species (51) than any other state. The revised plan takes important measures to protect and restore them.

Thirty-six nations already have demonstrated the value of such restorative actions, creating thousands of marine reserves to protect biodiversity and restore depleted fisheries and degraded habitats. Many research reports show that marine reserves are profoundly successful for the restoration of many species. Since reserves protect habitat and ecosystems, the benefits of the Revised Plan transcend rockfish and positively impact all plants and animals that are dependent on a natural reserve environment.

Specifically, we support the Preferred Action Alternative on p. 43 of the plan, which states:

“Rockfish management shall place the highest priority on the protection and restoration of the natural production of indicator rockfishes to healthy levels.
All fishery and ecosystem management protects and recovers indicator rockfish species to healthy levels and considers the management and ecosystem impacts of other marine species … Only indicator species will be managed in an ecosystem context that considers the natural capacity of a population to sustain itself in relation to food web dynamics, targeted and bycatch fishery removals, other human-induced stressors and limiting factors, and climatic factors. Stocks will be managed to assure intact genetic structure, sustainable production, age diversity, and ecosystem services. The management of other marine species will consider fishery, habitat, population, and other impacts on the integrity and sustainability of natural rockfish populations of indicator species.”

Modern fishing technologies allow fishermen to find and take fish from any habitat or site in Puget Sound. We need sites protected to protect vulnerable species. It is vitally important that we establish “No Take” marine reserves to protect marine habitats and help restore all endangered species.

In an effort to include the public in your decision-making on rockfish and other threatened marine populations in Puget Sound, please hold local public meetings each time a marine reserve or rockfish conservation area (RCA) is proposed.

Implementing the revised plan is critical not only for restoring and maintaining rockfish populations, but for the entire marine ecosystem in Puget Sound. We wholeheartedly support the plan and urge you to adopt its recommendations.

Trudy Bialic
Director, Public Affairs

Eli Penberthy
Seafood Specialist, Public Affairs

PCC Natural Markets

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