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:
- as food for other commercially important fish
- as a direct catch
- 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.
You can read the full press release here:
The full paper was recently published in the journal Fish and Fisheries:
Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.