Marine scientists are calling for cuts in commercial fishing for sardines, herring, and other small fish. The catch should be cut in half for some fisheries to protect populations of the fish and the predators that depend on them.
A task force produced a report on the issue that was released Sunday.
The report, “Little Fish, Big Impact,” financed by the Lenfest Foundation through the Pew Charitable Trusts, details how fishing has increased for these fish, which now account for 37%, by weight, of all fish harvested worldwide, up from about 8% half a century ago. Most of the fish are ground and processed for use as animal feed and nutritional supplements and as feed for the aquaculture industry, which produces about half the fish and shellfish that people eat.
Forage fish are an important link in the food chain, eating plankton and being consumed, in turn, by large fish like tuna and cod, as well as by seabirds and marine mammals. As a source of food in the wild for larger commercially valuable fish, forage fish are worth more than $11 billion, twice as much as their worth when processed for aquaculture and other uses.
The report cites several cases where overfishing of forage fish has led to the collapse of populations of larger fish or other predators.
Via The New York Times.