Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force
space
Home
space
The Project
space
The Task Force
space
Of Interest
space
News and Events
space
Contact Us
space
Log in
space

Media Coverage

The Ocean’s Unsung Heroes – Hooray for the Little Guys!
August 21, 2013
National Geographic NewsWatch Ocean Views

Don't Hold the Anchovies
June 27, 2013
ONEARTH Blog

The Ten Best Ocean Stories of 2012
December 18, 2012
“Surprising Science” - Smithsonian.com

Big Victory for Little Fish (and the Future of the Oceans)
November 14, 2012
HuffPost Green

Little Fish in a Big Pond
November 1, 2012
The Scientist

Contributions of forage fish worldwide explained
September 11, 2012
FIS

Globally, little forage fish net big profits
September 10, 2012
Futurity

Cutbacks of small fish catches will yield big gains
August 23, 2012
Environmental Industry

more

space

Events

Meeting of Ireland’s National Parliament’s Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine
October 17, 2013
Dublin, Ireland

Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council - Forage Panel Workshop
April 11, 2013
Raleigh, NC

Herring School Workshop
February 5, 2013
Simon Fraser University
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

ICES/PICES
November 13, 2012
Nantes, France

Northeast Fisheries Service
September 12, 2012
Woods Hole, MA

COFI 2012
July 9-13, 2012
Rome, Italy

European Parliament
July 12, 2012
Brussels, Belgium

more

space

News Releases

Expert Task Force Recommends Halving Global Fishing for Crucial Prey Species

Study provides first-time analysis of three distinct contributions of forage fish worldwide

Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force Holds Pivotal Meeting.

Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force travels to Peru and examines largest forage fishery in the world

more

space
space

Let 'forage fish' populations double, scientists urge

April 1, 2012
Los Angeles Times

By Tony Barboza

Sardines, anchovies and other small, schooling fish are caught in huge numbers, but they're vulnerable to overfishing, and creatures such as salmon and tuna need them for food, the panel says.

The catch of small, schooling fish such as sardines and anchovies should be cut in half globally and the amount left in the ocean doubled to protect the ecologically vital species from collapse, scientists say in a new report.

The silvery species known as forage fish are harvested in huge numbers worldwide and are easy for fishermen to round up because they form dense schools, or "bait balls." But wide fluctuations in their numbers make them especially vulnerable to overfishing, according to the report released Sunday by the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force, a 13-member panel of scientists from around the world.

The report urges wildlife managers to take more precautions to prevent future declines. The analysis estimates that small fish such as herring and menhaden are twice as valuable in the water as in a net because so many larger fish, including tuna, salmon and cod, rely on them for food.

"As the forage fish decline in abundance, so go their predators," said Ellen Pikitch of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at New York's Stony Brook University, the head of the panel, which is funded by a nonprofit grant.

The findings are the latest to raise concerns about the harvest of the little, oily fish, given their role as food for the ocean's bigger fish as well as dolphins, whales and seabirds.

Forage fish account for more than one-third of catches globally, the report says, with most of the yield ground into meal and fish oil to feed farmed fish and livestock and to produce nutritional supplements.

And although their large schools suggest the supply of such fish is vast and limitless, Pikitch said, "demand and price is increasing while their crucial ecological role has largely been ignored."

The scientists conducted a worldwide analysis of the science and management of forage fish, studying an assortment of fisheries including anchovetas in Peru and California's sardines.

California's booming sardine fishery famously collapsed in the mid-20th century. Although it has since rebounded, scientists are still studying exactly what combination of overfishing and shifting environmental conditions brought the decline.

The report's recommendations, likely to face resistance from the $5.6-billion industry, echo a recent push by environmental groups for new protections on forage fish.

A bill before the California Legislature would require the state to leave more small fish in the water for natural predators to feed on. Last year, the conservation group Oceana sued the federal government to tighten protections for anchovies and sardines fished off the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington.

Still, the U.S. West Coast is ahead of other parts of the world in how it manages some forage fish, scientists on the panel said. The sardine catch, for instance, is subject to stricter monitoring and more conservative limits that could serve as a buffer against future crashes.

California's most valuable catch, squid, is also considered a forage fish but was not included in the analysis.

Los Angeles Times story

Back to News Release