Friday, April 13, 2012

Worth More in the Water than Out

They may not be as sexy as a stout tuna or as charismatic as a swordfish, but small fish like sardines and anchovies are worth more in the water than out, according to thirteen scientists.  That's why the scientists say give them a break; catch fewer of them. 

"A thriving marine ecosystem relies on plenty of forage fish. These small schooling fish are a crucial link in ocean food webs because...they are primary food sources for many valuable fish such as tuna and cod.

They are worth more in the water than out.  The task force estimated that, globally, these species are twice as valuable in the water as in a net—contributing US$11.3 billion by serving as food for other commercially important fish. This is more than double the US$5.6 billion they generate as direct catch," according to Real Wire.

The message is simple:  If you take them out faster than they can replace themselves, one day they will be gone.  When that happens, everyone (people, seals, puffins, other fish we love to eat) suffers.  So give them a break.

The good news is that people are remembering the little guy in some places, like menhaden via Pew and herring in New Jersey and New England.  We just need more of this.

What can you do?  Get involved, get on some mailing lists, make your voice heard, look for opportunities to encourage sustainable fishing and save forage fish.  Also, avoid fish meal in your pet's food and sound out against fish meal being fed to farm animals.

Read about the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force and their full report.

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