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It would be nice if these people would try to be at least a little intellectually honest in these articles. Between the every shifting baselines that seem to ignore everything that preceded some arbitrary (but convenient for their argument) date, and the cherry-picking of sample dates to maximize or minimize impact, most of these stories end up being essentially worthless. Drives me crazy.

It looks like NOAA is primarily using the Baumgartner paper (1992, PDF) as the basis for its long-term historical sardine stocks. Figure 7 in that paper appears in at least a couple places on the NOAA fisheries site. Whether the methodology is really robust, I don't know, but it certainly implies a very noisy boom-bust population pattern, which one would tend to expect in a prey species. This at least provides some longer term comparison for the more recent numbers and behavior. I'm sure you've seen that, Dave, but I thought it might be a useful longer-term comparative reference for others.

Of course, as you are clearly alluding to, we humans have an amazing ability to throw gas on the fire until the last possible moment (or maybe even later, since our cluelessness can sometimes impede our ability to make intelligent and timely decisions ;-).

Looking forward to part 2.

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