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."

Menhaden
Menhaden
Article

Fisheries Body Again Ignores the Big Picture

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Article

Last week was big for menhaden, a forage fish that is prey for many wildlife species and is the focus of the East Coast’s largest fishing operation. On Nov. 13 and 14, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Menhaden Management Board met in Linthicum, Maryland to set catch limits and other policies for this critical species. The result was a mixed bag that shows some promise for working toward the long-term sustainability of menhaden but falls short of the certainty many fisheries experts and conservationists had sought. In the months leading up to the decision, one thing became perfectly clear: Public support for protecting menhaden’s role in the ecosystem has never been stronger.

Brittany Troast
Brittany Troast
Article

Key to Healthy Fisheries May Lie in Viewing Them From the Bottom Up

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Article

Brittany Troast always feels small when she stands beside the ocean. That’s because she sees the world as interconnected, a place where each individual—from the tiniest organisms to humans—are small but important parts of vast ecosystems.

Jonathan Peake
Jonathan Peake
Article

For Answers on Florida's Little Fish, a Math Geek Dives Into Data

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Article

With a passion for math and a love of fish, Jonathan Peake has embarked on a sudoku-style journey to better understand life in Florida’s estuaries.

Additional Resources

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Little Fish Are a Big Deal to Florida

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Data Visualization

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"