Managing the Nation's Forage Fish

Most fisheries in the United States are regulated one species at a time. But regional councils and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are moving toward a strategy that takes into account the marine ecosystem as a whole—one called ecosystem-based fishery management. Even though the scientific models being developed are complex, some simple steps can be taken now to get us closer to this goal. Managing the nation’s forage fish—small, schooling prey species—in a more precautionary way can be a useful tool in this transition.

Forage Fish Herring Pile
Forage Fish Herring Pile
Fact Sheet

Precautionary Management of Forage Fish

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Fact Sheet

Most fisheries in the United States are regulated one species at a time. But regional councils and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are moving toward a strategy that takes into account the marine ecosystem as a whole—one called ecosystem-based fishery management. Managing the nation’s forage fish—small, schooling prey species—in a more precautionary way can be a useful tool in this transition.

Mid Atlantic Menhaden fish
Mid Atlantic Menhaden fish

Atlantic Menhaden

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The tiny Atlantic menhaden, often called "the most important fish in the sea," plays an essential role in marine ecosystems from Maine to Florida. The fish is a food source for wildlife such as whales, dolphins, ospreys and eagles, as well as valuable fish species like tuna, cod, striped bass and tarpon.

American Shad
American Shad

Shad

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River Herring

River Herring

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