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2. What are the main threats to forage fish?

Large-scale industrial fisheries remove vast quantities of forage fish from the oceans every year to supply the fishmeal and oil trade, and the boom in global aquaculture is putting increased pressure on forage fisheries to expand in order to supply feedstock for farmed fish. Fishmeal and fish oil derived from forage fish are widely used as a supplement in the feedstock of farmed fish, poultry, livestock, and pet foods.

Fishmeal and fish oil are used extensively by the salmon aquaculture industry in Europe and in Chile, Canada, and the United States. In Asia, much of the fishmeal is used by the shrimp aquaculture industry. Some fish oil is also used in human food supplements (so-called "nutraceuticals"), primarily as a source of omega-3 fatty acids. In 2002, an estimated 29 million metric tons (64.4 billion pounds) of forage fish were turned into fishmeal and fish oil.

The prevailing "single-species" approach to managing fisheries in the U.S. and many other countries is itself part of the problem, since it is based on maximizing the yield (catch) of commercially valuable species irrespective of their role in the food web and the ecosystem. This approach ignores the consequences for non-human predators that compete for forage fish.



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