What do humpback whales, wild Pacific salmon and brown pelicans all have in common? They feed on tightly packed schools of small prey fish more commonly known as forage fish.
Forage fish play an important and relatively unappreciated role in the ocean food web as prey fish but they have an increasing value for fishermen. Global demand for forage fish is rising — not for human consumption, but for other uses in chicken feed, fertilizer and bait.
So how sustainable is a fishery for forage fish? According to many fishing and conservation organizations, the answer is: not very.
The direct catch of forage fish worldwide is worth about $5.6 billion but in the water those same fish are worth more than twice that amount ($11.3 billion). Watch the following video from Pew to learn more about the role that forage fish play and the reason why they’re worth looking out for.
To learn more:
- Check out this post from Pew: Ocean’s little fish are a big deal
- And read the whole op-ed from The Christian Science Monitor
- Read about the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force
Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.