No Small Fish = No Big Fish = No Fish Sticks; Your Help is Needed to Control Harvest of Small Fish

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Why you should care about tiny fish:
We are already taking over 30 million tons of small forage fish out of the ocean every year, and because this fishery is largely unregulated we may be removing more biomass than the food web can sustain.  Eventually the larger fish, dolphins, and whales will be affected, and sooner or later we will as well.
The endangered Southern Resident orcas’ preferred prey is  Chinook salmon, which “typically feed on the most abundant pelagic planktivore. This generally includes herrings, anchovies, juvenile rockfish, and sardines” (Moyle 2002b).  In other words – small forage fish.
From the Pew Environmental Group:

Tiny fish play a major role in sustaining a productive marine environment, but their importance can be easily overlooked. That’s why they need your help right now.
Small species that you may never have heard of, such as saury, sand lance, and smelt, eat microscopic plants and animals drifting near the ocean’s surface. The fish are then eaten by larger animals, converting plankton into protein for other marine life. These prey species, which often are not well understood by scientists, occupy a critical position in the middle of the marine food web. Right now, fishing for them is unregulated, making it possible for new fisheries to spring up before the science is in place to manage them sustainably.
Forage fish account for more than a third of all the fish caught in the world’s oceans—31.5 million metric tons–and most of them are turned into fish meal or oil. But demand is rising to harvest even larger quantities of forage fish out of productive marine ecosystems. Conventional fishery management does not account for the role they play as food for ocean wildlife. As a result, these prey fish, while not considered overfished may be caught in such large quantities that not enough are left in the water to feed bigger fish, seabirds, and marine mammals.
Fishery managers along the Pacific coast are considering a better approach, but they need to hear from the people who support protecting a healthy food marine web: fishermen who benefit from robust populations of salmon and albacore tuna; whale-watching enthusiasts from California’s Channel Islands to Washington state’s San Juans; and everyone else who wants to preserve a resilient and durable Pacific ecosystem for future generations.

Ask the Pacific Fishery Management Council to hold off on opening any new fisheries for forage species until management plans are in place.

Take Action: Little Fish Need Big Help!

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