An international research panel recommends cutting in half the global harvest of small, schooling fish like sardines, anchovy and herring. The group included researchers from the Northwest.
The panel estimates little fish are roughly twice as valuable in the sea as in the net because so many larger sea creatures prey on them.
Oregon State University professor Selina Heppell co-authored the study. She's proud to say the sardine and mackerel fisheries on the U.S. West Coast are already managed quite conservatively.
"I would say for the moment we are doing a reasonable job," Heppell says. "Particularly relative to some other parts of the world where there is a lot less monitoring and management of the stocks."
But Heppell adds the dynamics of some local species need to be better understood. Smelt that spawn in the Columbia River system are on the endangered list.
Scientists from the University of Washington and University of British Columbia also contributed the forage fish report. The three year project was funded by a private foundation called the Lenfest Ocean Program.
On the Web:
Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force: http://www.oceanconservationscience.org/foragefish
Pacific Fishery Management Council:
Photo courtesy of Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force
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