November 25, 2013 at 3:31 am #1305MikeKeymaster
Millions of anchovies die on Spain beach
By HAROLD HECKLE, Associated Press Writer Fri Sep 29, 8:43 PM ET
MADRID, Spain – Millions of anchovies â€” a protected species in
Europe â€” have died in northern Spain after an unexplained mass
beaching, officials said Friday.
The fish, all juveniles, were found stranded along large stretches of
Colunga beach, 35 miles east of the port city of Gijon, a normally
pristine seaside landscape in the verdant province of Asturias. “More than three tons
have been found so far, and our main â€” untested â€” hypothesis
at the moment is that they tried to flee from predators and accidentally
beached,” said Luis Laria, chief coordinator of a marine protection unit
working with the government.
Laria said a _European Union_
on fishing anchovies along the northern Atlantic coast of Spain and the
western coast of France has been in place for two months. Less rigorous fishing restrictions had been used for the previous two years.
These anchovies are considered susceptible to extinction and are
therefore closely monitored by scientists, according to Spain’s
Environment Ministry. Although anchovies are exported from elsewhere in
the world, including Peru and Chile, Laria said anchovies from the
Atlantic off Spain and France are the most valued and expensive because of their flavor, derived from
their nutrient-rich environment.
If the beached specimens had grown to full maturity, they would have
represented more than 100 tons of potential breeders. “It’s a bit of a
disaster,” said Laria. “We can’t fish them because they’re so rare, and
now they’ve killed themselves.” Laria said that experts had studied the
dead anchovies and found no evidence of toxic chemicals that could have
caused the beaching. “The likelihood is that a shoal tried to swim away
from hungry dolphins or tuna.” A factor that may have disoriented the
fish is unusually high water temperatures off Colunga in the high 70s,
Laria said, adding that such a mass beaching of anchovies is
unprecedented in northern Spain. A cleanup team was dispatched Friday to
begin scooping up the dead fish to avoid further unwanted environmental
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