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

Expert Task Force Recommends Halving Global Fishing for Crucial Prey Species

Forage Fish Twice as Valuable in the Water as in the Net


WASHINGTON – Fishing for herring, anchovy, and other “forage fish” in general should be cut in half globally to account for their critical role as food for larger species, recommends an expert group of marine scientists in a report released today. The Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force conducted the most comprehensive worldwide analysis of the science and management of forage fish populations to date. Its report, “Little Fish, Big Impact: Managing a crucial link in ocean food webs,” concluded that in most ecosystems at least twice as many of these species should be left in the ocean as conventional practice.
           
A thriving marine ecosystem relies on plenty of forage fish. These small schooling fish are a crucial link in ocean food webs because they eat tiny plants and animals, called plankton, and are preyed upon by animals such as penguins, whales, seals, puffins, and dolphins. They are primary food sources for many commercially and recreationally valuable fish found around North America, such as salmon, tuna, striped bass, and cod. The task force estimated that, globally, forage fish are twice as valuable in the water as in a net—contributing US$11.3 billion by serving as food for other commercially important fish. This is more than double the US$5.6 billion they generate as direct catch.

These species play a growing role in the everyday lives of industrialized nations. Their demand in recent decades has greatly increased for use as fish meal and fish oil to feed farmed fish, pigs, and chickens that people consume on a regular basis. Fish oil is also used in nutritional supplements for humans. 

“Traditionally we have been managing fisheries for forage species in a manner that cannot sustain the food webs, or some of the industries, they support,” says Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University, who convened and led the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force. “As three-fourths of marine ecosystems in our study have predators highly dependent on forage fish, it is economically and biologically imperative that we develop smarter management for these small but significant species.”

Small schooling fish are an important part of the ecosystem on both coasts of North America.  Many marketable species on the Pacific coast, such as salmon, lingcod, Pacific hake, Pacific halibut, and spiny dogfish, feed on them.  A large number of seabird species relies on them as well, and research shows that the breeding success of the federally endan­gered California least tern may depend on the availability of local anchovy populations. On the eastern seaboard, more menhaden are caught (by weight) than any other fish off the Atlantic coast. Taking out excessive amounts, however, means less food for tuna, bluefish, and striped bass ― as well as whales, dolphins, and seabirds – and affects fisheries and tourism industries from Maine to Florida.

“Around the globe, we’ve seen how removing too many forage fish can significantly affect predators and people who rely on that system’s resources for their livelihoods,” said Dr. Edward D. Houde, a professor at the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science and task force member. “We need to be more precautionary in how we manage forage fish in ecosystems that we know very little about.”

Made up of 13 preeminent scientists with expertise in a wide range of disciplines, the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force was established to generate specific and practical advice to support better management of forage fish around the world. This group of experts, with support from the Lenfest Ocean Program, synthesized scientific research and other information about these species and conducted original simulation modeling to reach their conclusions. 

“The Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force has provided guidance on how to prevent overfishing of these small prey species,” said Dr. P. Dee Boersma, professor and director of the Center for Penguins as Ocean Sentinels at the University of Washington and task force member. “Our hope is that fishery managers will put our recommendations into action to protect penguins, cod, whales, and a whole host of other creatures that need them to survive.”

Read the full report.

Read a summary of the report.

For additional information, images and video: www.lenfestocean.org/foragefish

Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force: www.oceanconservationscience.org/foragefish
Lenfest Ocean Program: www.lenfestocean.org

Related Media Coverage:
Washington Post
Los Angeles Times
New York Times
Slate
Scotsman
New York Times editorial


Task Force

Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, chair, professor and executive director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, USA
Dr. P. Dee Boersma, professor and director of the Center for Penguins as Ocean Sentinels, University of Washington, USA
Dr. Ian L. Boyd, professor and director of the NERC Sea Mammal Research Unit and the Scottish Oceans Institute, University of St Andrews, UK
Dr. David O. Conover, professor, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, USA
Dr. Daniel Pauly, professor, Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Canada
Dr. Éva Plagányi, Marine and Atmospheric research scientist, CSIRO, Australia

 


Dr. Philippe Cury, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, director of the Centre de Recherche Halieutique Méditerranéenne et Tropicale, France
Dr. Tim Essington, associate professor, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, USA
Dr. Selina S. Heppell, associate professor, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, USA
Dr. Edward D. Houde, professor, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, USA
Dr. Marc Mangel, distinguished professor and director of the Center for Stock Assessment Research, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA
Dr. Keith Sainsbury, professor, Institute of Marine and Antarctic Science, University of Tasmania, Australia, and director of SainSolutions Pty Ltd
Dr. Robert S. Steneck, professor, School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, USA

 

The Lenfest Ocean Program supports scientific research aimed at forging solutions to the challenges facing the global marine environment. The program was established in 2004 by the Lenfest Foundation and is managed by the Pew Environment Group. www.LenfestOcean.org

The Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University is dedicated to advancing ocean conservation through science. The Institute transforms real-world policy while pursuing serious science, both of which are essential for ocean health. www.OceanConservationScience.org