New Study Determines the Value of Sardines and Other Forage Fish

Written by on September 13, 2012 in Marine Life
Pacific sardines. Photo credit: SWFSC, NOAA.

Pacific sardines. Photo credit: SWFSC, NOAA.

A new study from the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University has provided the first-ever analysis of the value of small, schooling fish.

The research team found that sardines, herring, anchovies and other small forage fish contribute at least $16.9 billion to global fisheries annually.

Their value comes from one of three contributions:

  1. as food for other commercially important fish
  2. as a direct catch
  3. as an important link in the marine food web

In 75 percent of the ecosystem models analyzed, at least one top predator depended on forage fish for at least half of its diet.  In 30 percent of the models, at least one predator depended on forage fish for three-quarters of its diet.

“In addition to their value to commercial fishing and other industries that depend on them for their products, forage fish play valuable roles in global ecosystems while they are still in the water,” explained co-lead author Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, executive director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science and professor at Stony Brook University.  “By quantifying the overall contributions forage fish make globally to both economies and ecosystems, we can evaluate the trade-offs of various uses of forage fish.”

“This approach can result in sustainable populations of both forage fish and the larger fish that depend on them, as well as oceans teeming with a healthy balance of marine life,” she said.

Northern anchovies are important prey for many marine mammals. Photo credit OAR, National Undersea Research Program, NOAA.

Northern anchovies are important prey for many marine mammals. Photo credit OAR, National Undersea Research Program, NOAA.

You can read the full press release here:

The full paper was recently published in the journal Fish and Fisheries:

Pacific herring. Photo credit: NOAA.

Pacific herring. Photo credit: NOAA.

 

Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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