Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Coastal Power Plant Records Reveal Decline in Key Southern California Fishes

Recent research documents a dramatic, 40-year drop in a number of key fish species and a change in their community structure, according to a new study led by Eric Miller of MBC Applied Environmental Sciences (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and John McGowan of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

As described in the July 20, 2013, issue of the journal Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, the researchers tapped into a vast, yet nontraditional source of information to formulate their conclusions: An expansive catalog of fish captured and recorded in cooling water systems at five California coastal power plants.

The unique data set is derived from the tens of millions of cubic meters of water filtered at each power plant several times per year. Each fish caught by the cooling systems since 1972 was identified and counted.

The power plant data are another component in the various methods Scripps scientists employ to help science and society understand environmental issues and challenges. Scripps’s longstanding oceanographic observation programs include the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI), the longest open-ocean observing program of its kind that has been producing vital data to decipher changes well offshore, as well as a long-standing program of daily seawater measurements off the Scripps Pier. The CalCOFI program has also shown long-term declines in plankton abundance. Such observational sources are part of a foundation for research to better understand the ocean environment and provide benefits to ocean managers, decision makers, and others.

The bulk average of fish from the early power plant recordings (1972-1983) declined by 78 percent compared with more recent years (1990-2010). The findings, according to the scientists, tend to absolve overfishing as the main culprit in the decline of these fishes because both commercial fish species as well as non-commercial fishes suffered similar population drops.

The decline centers on so-called “forage” fishes, small species such as sardines and anchovies that live close to shore and are consumed by larger predatory fish, seabirds, and marine mammals.

“Many of the species represented in this data set are rarely reported on as they are not targeted by either recreational or commercial fisheries, yet their decline was commensurate with better known species such as anchovies and sea basses,” said Miller. “Recent data collected since this analysis was completed do not change the outlook—the relatively long-term decline continues and likely contributes to the current, acute malnutrition and mortalities in California sea lions.”

“The data indicate that there has been a clear-cut and substantial decline in the abundance of these forage fish, both in the number of fish caught and in the overall biomass,” said McGowan, an emeritus research professor of oceanography at Scripps. “Factors beyond fishing such as oceanographic change appear to be involved, including temperature changes from global warming.”

McGowan says the evidence reveals clear synchronous declines across all five regions, possibly connected to ocean temperatures. Ranging from Northern San Diego County to Ventura County, the power plants include the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, Huntington Beach Generating Station, Redondo Beach Generating Station, El Segundo Generating Station, and Ormond Beach Generating Station.

“The data from four of the five power plants agree with one another, so it has to be a large-scale phenomenon, something other than the individual power plants,” McGowan said.

“We have found consistency between the power plant records and data compiled from other independent sources including fishing records and stock assessment models,” said Miller. “This invaluable secondary use of the power plant monitoring program provides population data to help better manage our coastal resources. It is a benefit which we have only begun to utilize.”

Monitoring was executed, in part, in fulfillment of conditions set forth in each power plant’s state-issued discharge permit. This analysis, however, examined these data in ways and to a depth well beyond their respective permit requirements. The results represent a substantial secondary use for regulated monitoring data, once the data have fulfilled their primary, permit-required purpose. Each of the power plant operators agreed to the use of their historic data and supported the monitoring program throughout. All data analyses were supported internally by MBC Applied Environmental Sciences.

Mario Aguilera | Newswise
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Sea turtles face plastic pollution peril
09.10.2015 | University of Exeter

nachricht NOAA declares third ever global coral bleaching event
08.10.2015 | NOAA Headquarters

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Secure data transfer thanks to a single photon

Physicists of TU Berlin and mathematicians of MATHEON are so successful that even the prestigious journal “Nature Communications” reported on their project.

Security in data transfer is an important issue, and not only since the NSA scandal. Sometimes, however, the need for speed conflicts to a certain degree with...

Im Focus: A Light Touch May Help Animals and Robots Move on Sand and Snow

Having a light touch can make a hefty difference in how well animals and robots move across challenging granular surfaces such as snow, sand and leaf litter. Research reported October 9 in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics shows how the design of appendages – whether legs or wheels – affects the ability of both robots and animals to cross weak and flowing surfaces.

Using an air fluidized bed trackway filled with poppy seeds or glass spheres, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology systematically varied the...

Im Focus: Reliable in-line inspections of high-strength automotive body parts within seconds

Nondestructive material testing (NDT) is a fast and effective way to analyze the quality of a product during the manufacturing process. Because defective materials can lead to malfunctioning finished products, NDT is an essential quality assurance measure, especially in the manufacture of safety-critical components such as automotive B-pillars. NDT examines the quality without damaging the component or modifying the surface of the material. At this year's Blechexpo trade fair in Stuttgart, Fraunhofer IZFP will have an exhibit that demonstrates the nondestructive testing of high-strength automotive body parts using 3MA. The measurement results are available in a matter of seconds.

To minimize vehicle weight and fuel consumption while providing the highest level of crash safety, automotive bodies are reinforced with elements made from...

Im Focus: Kick-off for a new era of precision astronomy

The MICADO camera, a first light instrument for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), has entered a new phase in the project: by agreeing to a Memorandum of Understanding, the partners in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, and Italy, have all confirmed their participation. Following this milestone, the project's transition into its preliminary design phase was approved at a kick-off meeting held in Vienna. Two weeks earlier, on September 18, the consortium and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which is building the telescope, have signed the corresponding collaboration agreement.

As the first dedicated camera for the E-ELT, MICADO will equip the giant telescope with a capability for diffraction-limited imaging at near-infrared...

Im Focus: Locusts at the wheel: University of Graz investigates collision detector inspired by insect eyes

Self-driving cars will be on our streets in the foreseeable future. In Graz, research is currently dedicated to an innovative driver assistance system that takes over control if there is a danger of collision. It was nature that inspired Dr Manfred Hartbauer from the Institute of Zoology at the University of Graz: in dangerous traffic situations, migratory locusts react around ten times faster than humans. Working together with an interdisciplinary team, Hartbauer is investigating an affordable collision detector that is equipped with artificial locust eyes and can recognise potential crashes in time, during both day and night.

Inspired by insects

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing healthcare and sustainably strengthening healthcare systems

01.10.2015 | Event News

Conference in Brussels: Tracking and Tracing the Smallest Marine Life Forms

30.09.2015 | Event News

World Alzheimer`s Day – Professor Willnow: Clearer Insights into the Development of the Disease

17.09.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Smart clothing, mini-eyes, and a virtual twin – Artificial Intelligence at ICT 2015

13.10.2015 | Trade Fair News

Listening to the Extragalactic Radio

13.10.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

Penn study stops vision loss in late-stage canine X-linked retinitis pigmentosa

13.10.2015 | Health and Medicine

More VideoLinks >>>