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1. What are forage fish?

Forage fish include small and medium-sized pelagic species (often referred to by anglers as "baitfish") such as anchovy, sardine, herring, menhaden, mackerel and capelin, but they also include squid, shrimp, and tiny shrimp-like creatures called krill which feed everything in the ocean from the smallest fishes to the largest whales. Pacific hake (whiting) on the west coast and its close cousin in Alaska, the walleye pollock, are also major forage species at all life stages in their respective ecosystems.

Forage fish have several important things in common around the world: (1) they tend to be fast-growing and prolific, but they are prone to natural fluctuations in population size due to environmental variability; (2) they are dominant prey species in their respective ecosystems, feeding top predator fish, seabirds and marine mammals; (3) they are targets of some of the largest commercial fisheries in the world.



Copyright � Marine Fish Conservation Network. All Rights Reserved 2007

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