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Let ‘forage fish’ multiply, scientists say by Tony Barboza April 02,2012   |  Source: Los Angeles Times

The catch of small, schooling fish such as sardines and anchovies should be cut in half globally and the amount left in the ocean doubled to protect the ecologically vital species from collapse, scientists say in a new report.

The silvery species known as forage fish are harvested in huge numbers worldwide and are easy for fishermen to round up because they form dense schools, or “bait balls.”

But wide fluctuations in their numbers make them especially vulnerable to overfishing, according to the report released Sunday by the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force, a 13-member panel of scientists from around the world.

The report urges wildlife managers to take more precautions to prevent future declines.

The analysis estimates that small fish such as herring and menhaden are twice as valuable in the water as in a net because so many larger fish, including tuna, salmon and cod, rely on them for food.

“As the forage fish decline in abundance, so go their predators,” said Ellen Pikitch of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at New York’s Stony Brook University, the head of the panel, which is funded by a nonprofit grant.

The findings are the latest to raise concerns about the harvest of the little, oily fish, given their role as food for the ocean’s

 

© 2012 the Los Angeles Times

Theme(s): Fisheries Resources.

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