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1st World Seabird Conference

September 7-11, 2010
Victoria, Canada

Presentation – Tim Essington, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington: “Accounting for dependencies of seabirds on forage fish in fisheries management”

Full list of co-authors: Ellen K. Pikitch, Christine Santora, Konstantine J. Rountos

Forage fish are some of the most important fish in the sea, both for their economic value, and for their role as prey for a myriad of marine fish, mammals, seabirds and other marine life. Currently forage species account for nearly 40% of global wild marine fisheries catch, and pressure is expected to intensify. Concurrently, evidence of strong, dependence of marine predators on forage species has accumulated. In some cases, foraging grounds of predators overlap substantially with forage fisheries. Conflicts between fisheries and natural predators for forage fish may be particularly strong in coastal upwelling ecosystems, where forage fish productivity and distribution are extremely sensitive to atmospheric and oceanic processes. Various seabirds in these ecosystems are dependent on one or more of the resident forage fish species (such as anchovies and sardines). Studies have documented that a decrease in the forage fish abundance can result in increased mortality and decreased reproduction, fledging, and breeding success of seabirds. The Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force is addressing the need for ecosystem-based management, which accounts for the unique ecological role and life histories of forage fish. We will present several examples of seabird dependencies on forage fish, and their implications for more effective fisheries management. In particular, we will focus on examples from upwelling ecosystems including the Benguela, Humboldt, and California current systems.

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