2nd International Marine Conservation Congress
“IMCC2: Making Marine Science Matter”
Victoria, BC, Canada
May 14-18, 2011
IOCS/Lenfest Presentation – E.K. Pikitch: “Little Fish, Big Value: Managing Forage Fish in an Ecosystem Context”
May 17, 2011
FISH 5.1 Room: Saanich
Forage fish (i.e. low trophic level, schooling fishes) are some of the most important fish in the sea, both economically and ecologically. Forage species account for nearly 40% of global wild marine fisheries catch, much of which is processed into fishmeal and fish oil for animal feeds. Concurrently, forage fish are, in many ecosystems, the foundation of the marine food web and are a critical prey source for marine mammals, seabirds, and higher trophic level fish. Most forage fisheries are now managed with traditional single species approaches, designed to maximize fisheries yields. However, a growing body of scientific evidence indicates that forage fisheries, which commonly exhibit large population fluctuations in response to environmental variables, should be managed with an ecosystem-based approach, to sustain the other organisms that depend upon them while maintaining long-term economic benefits. The Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force was established to address the need for practical guidance in implementing an ecosystem-based approach for forage fisheries. Presented here is an overview of the task force’s work, including new scientific revelations into the ecological consequences of forage fish removals and understanding the impact of various management strategies. Recommendations developed by the task force on practical, science-based strategies will be discussed.