Forage Fish: Small Fish That Play a Big Role

Written by on June 24, 2013 in Fish, Marine Life

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:

School of sardines.

School of sardines. Photo credit: wanderlasss via photopin cc.

Copyright © 2013 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 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. .


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed Find MST on Instagram Connect with MST on Google Plus

Comments are closed.