This is a group of pelagic schooling fish (northern anchovy, market squid, Pacific sardine, Pacific mackerel, and jack mackerel) caught for consumption, aquaculture, and bait.
Pacific sardine and Pacific mackerel are actively managed in that landings and markets are substantial enough to warrant an annual assessment of stock status and management. Sardines, for example, are managed through a science-based estimate of their population, with that estimate then being reduced by 150,000 metric tons to assure that ecosystem needs for this forage species are met. Then a harvest amount of only 10% of the remaining biomass estimate is set. The three other species are either managed at the state-level or are landed in low numbers and so are monitored less often.
Market squid are often fished at night with the use of powerful lights, which attract the squid to the surface. They are either pumped directly from the sea into the hold of the boat, or caught with an encircling net. Because there is more difficulty in estimating their overall population, squid are managed to account for that uncertainty. There is an annual quota, a limit on the number of boats, as well as a weekend closure to all fishing to assure spawning opportunities. If you live or visit Monterey Bay in the late summer, you may see these boats operating at night.
Coastal pelagic species are harvested directly and as bycatch in other fisheries. Generally, they are targeted with “round-haul” gear including purse seines, drum seines, lampara nets, and dip nets. These species are also taken incidentally with midwater trawls, pelagic trawls, gillnets, trammel nets, trolls, pots, hook-and-line, and jigs.