Local sardine fishery avoids premature canning

Jim Stiebritz, owner of Sunrise Seafoods, supervised the unloading of about 90 tons of sardines last Wednesday after National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration-Fisheries shifted part of Southern California's quota to Washington and Oregon at the urging of the two Northwest state's congressional delegations, including U.S. Rep. Brian Baird. MACK FUNK photo

ILWACO - U.S. Rep. Brian Baird successfully joined U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, the Ports of Ilwaco and Woodland, the Pacific County Commissioners, and the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) in urging NOAA Fisheries (formerly NMFS) to help local sardine fishermen return to work by moving up the Oct. 1 reallocation date.

The earlier reallocation deadline allows commercial sardine fishermen, dock workers and processing plant employees in Ilwaco and Astoria to return to their jobs immediately, rather than remaining jobless until Oct. 1.

It had been feared many workers would move on to other areas for jobs, leaving local processors without labor if it took too long to shift the quota.

"Fishermen and other people who make their living in the fishing industry here in Washington state shouldn't have to be idle because of an arbitrary reallocation deadline," Baird said. "I applaud this decision and I am pleased to see the processing plants in Ilwaco and Astoria get up and running again and these folks get back to work."

The reallocation deadline is the date on which the unutilized quota of sardines is split evenly between two commercial fishing regions: Washington, Oregon and Northern California (one) and Southern California (two). Washington, Oregon and Northern California reached their quota of one-third on Sept. 13. Southern California has not reached its quota of two-thirds.

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