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Forage Fish
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Forage fish have been described as "fuel for the food web" because they are the food that sustains larger predators higher up in the ocean food chain. Their schooling behavior and superabundance make them ideal food sources for large populations of top predator fish such as tuna, striped bass, cod, flounder, salmon, or swordfish, as well as whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, sea lions, and seabirds. Without forage fish the ocean food web would collapse and no longer support large, diverse assemblages of top predator species.

Capt Paul Eidman Blog
There is widespread concern that historic overfishing and decimation of Atlantic menhaden stocks (also known as bunker or pogy) is harming the health of coastal food webs by diminishing the availability of a critical forage fish to larger predatory gamefish and other marine wildlife. These concerns have prompted many East Coast states to ban the industrial menhaden fishery in state waters in recent years. But some coastal states still allow a small baitfish fishery for menhaden in order to supply bait to lobster and sport fishermen. As New Jersey-based fishing guide and ecotour operator Capt. Paul Eidman shows, however, out-of-state seiners have invaded New Jersey's coastal waters and turned a once-modest baitfish fishery into something no one bargained for...

Point Reyes Bird Observatory Report
Recommendations on how to improve the management and conservation of forage species in the California Current ecosystem.

Hungry Oceans: What Happens When The Prey Is Gone?

Hungry Oceans: What Happens When The Prey Is GoneA recent report released by OCEANA, Hungry Oceans finds that 7 of the top 10 fisheries in the world target prey fish. These fisheries have emerged as populations of bigger fish have become overexploited and depleted. The report concludes that the impacts of fishing activity over the past decades has been so great that the nearly all prey fisheries now cannot withstand increased fishing pressure.

Prior to the 1950s, forage fish represented a relatively small share of the global marine fisheries catch every year - less than 8% by one estimate. Since the 1950s, new fishing technologies and factory fishing vessels have enabled humans to remove ever-growing quantities of forage fish from the oceans. In 2002, forage fish accounted for 36 percent of the global marine fish landings, totaling more than 30 million metric tons (66 billion pounds). Most of these fish were not intended for human consumption but processed directly into fishmeal and fish oil to be used in poultry, livestock, and aquaculture feeds, and the boom in global aquaculture is putting increased pressure on forage fisheries to expand in order to supply more feedstock for farmed fish. Without effective measures to protect forage fish and limit their exploitation, today's high-tech industrial fisheries will continue to plunder the ocean food web and diminish the food supply of many dependent marine predators, with lasting consequences.

Copyright � Marine Fish Conservation Network. All Rights Reserved 2007

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