West Coast Forage Species Protection and Management
Forage species are small schooling fishes and invertebrates that are critical for maintaining a healthy and diverse marine ecosystem. West Coast forage species include: Pacific sardine, Pacific herring, Northern anchovy, Pacific mackerel, smelts, sand lance, market squid, and krill. Forage species occupy a critical role in the marine food web as a primary food source for many commercially and recreationally valuable fish species, including several overfished groundfish species, salmon, and Pacific whiting, one of the region’s largest commercial fisheries. Forage species are also a principal food source for many species of marine mammals and seabirds, several of which are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
Forage species populations face many threats, including climate change, acidification, pollution, and human exploitation. Many forage species are targeted in recreational and commercial fisheries along the West Coast. However, management of forage species continues to overlook the role forage species play in the ecosystem. RMCP is working with fellow conservation organizations to educate the public and reform management of forage species along the West Coast.
Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force Report, April 3, 2012 – “Little Fish, Big Impact”