Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force Holds Pivotal Meeting
This past December, the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force held its fourth meeting in New York City. During this pivotal meeting, the task force members reviewed the results of its research over the past 18 months, and drafted management recommendations for forage fish that take into account their important role in marine food webs. The goal of the task force is to develop a scientifically founded, ecosystem-based approach to the management of forage fisheries globally.
Since the launch of the task force in May of 2009, this team of scientists has been studying the roles of forage fish within food webs, examining the latest scientific research on these fish, and conducting original research to shape their recommendations. These recommendations, which should be finalized within the next few months, will provide the first set of comprehensive, science-based rules of thumb that managers can practically use when managing forage fish.
The Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University launched the task force because of the need for credible advice on an ecosystem-based management approach for forage fish. These small prey fish, such as anchovies, herring, sardines, and menhaden, are being increasingly harvested by industrial scale fisheries, and comprise nearly 40 percent of the wild marine fish catch globally. The fish are a critical food source for marine mammals, seabirds, and many large fish species, and their excessive removal can undermine or even collapse marine food webs.
Supported by the Lenfest Ocean Program (http://www.lenfestocean.org/), the task force is comprised of thirteen scientists from around the globe, who collectively have expertise in a wide range of disciplines, including marine ecology, small pelagic fishery populations, marine mammals, seabirds, oceanography, climate, quantitative methods, ecosystem modeling, and fishery management. More information on the work of the task force can be found at www.oceanconservationscience.org/foragefish/project/index.html.