Protecting the Prey

Protecting the Prey
MDP mangrove shoal Matthew Potenski© Matthew D Potenski

Forage fish hold Florida’s marine food webs together. They are a critical food source for fish and wildlife and make up nearly 20 percent of the commercial catch off Florida’s shores.

Few rules directly limit the amount of forage fish that can be taken from the water, yet worldwide demand for the species is skyrocketing. They are used as feed for fish farms and in products such as cosmetics and fertilizers.

Regulators should ensure sufficient abundance, variety, and sizes of forage species to meet the food needs of predators before expanding or limiting their fishing. Authorities also should protect forage fish habitats—such as mangroves, sea grasses, estuaries, rivers, and bays—including their water quantity and quality.

Failing to protect forage fish could cost jobs and revenue and hurt Florida’s legacy as the "Fishing Capital of the World."

Compass Points
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On Menhaden, Fisheries Body Again Ignores the Big Picture

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On Menhaden, Fisheries Body Again Ignores the Big Picture

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Paul Sieswerda
Paul Sieswerda
Article

A Vision for Menhaden: Supporting Anglers, Wildlife, and Businesses From Florida to Maine

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Article

On Nov. 13, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will take its most important vote yet on how to manage menhaden, which are fished commercially and also support tourism, recreational fishing, and coastal businesses by serving as a key prey species for many predators. Three people who care about menhaden spoke with The Pew Charitable Trusts about what this forage fish means to them. Their answers were lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

Ellen Pikitch
Ellen Pikitch
Article

Marine Biologist Explains Why Menhaden Managers Should Keep Ecosystem in Mind

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Article

In October, Ellen Pikitch, former chair of the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force, submitted a letter on behalf of more than 100 scientists to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in support of managing menhaden, a forage fish, from an ecosystem perspective. The public comment period is open through Oct. 24, and the commission will make its decision Nov. 13.

Additional Resources

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Little Fish Are a Big Deal to Florida

Preserve the ’Fishing Capital of the World’ by conserving forage fish

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Forage fish hold Florida’s marine food webs together. These small schooling fish feed on microscopic plants and animals and in turn serve as a critical food source for fish and wildlife. They make up about 20 percent of the commercial catch off Florida’s shores.

School of menhaden
Time to Protect "Most Important Fish in the Sea"
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