Forage fish are small prey or "bait" fish that feed most of the ocean's predators (including humans!) and they are a critical part of the marine food web. However, many of these species are at risk due to industrial scale fishing known as "reduction fishing." Reduction fishing is the practice of catching massive amounts of forage fish for and "reducing" them to fish meal and oil to sell on a global commodities market.
This market supplies feed for pets, pigs, and farmed fish. Most of these wild forage fish are used to feed farmed salmon in open net pens, which is itself an environmentally unsustainable practice.
That’s why Forage Fish Defenders is launching a campaign to end reduction fishing around the world.
This antiquated practice of reduction fishing is wasteful, risky, and no longer necessary. It should be banned on a global basis, just like whaling was decades ago. These forage fish are too important for predators like whales, birds, dolphin and fish to be ground up for use as pet food.
Ospreys, eagles, puffins, and many other seabirds rely on abundant forage fish. Reduction fishing is partly responsible for a 70% decline in seabirds since 1970.
mammals like dolphins rely on forage fish in their diets, and many of these iconic species are endangered.
A moratorium is in place for killing whales, however, whales are under threat from a lack of available food.
Forage fish are a key part of the ocean ecosystem because they serve as prey for many predator species, including whales, dolphins, birds, other fish, and in some cases, humans.
Unfortunately these fish are being caught on a massive scale by industrial reduction fishing operations that process these valuable ecosystem fish into low value fish meal and fish oil for use as feed for farmed salmon, pets and pigs. This type of fishing accounts for more than 20% of the global seafood catch and it is completely unnecessary, since substitutes are widely available.
Now is the time for leaders around the world to stop this wasteful practice. Retailers should require suppliers to phase out wild caught fish in feed for farmed animals and pets. Governments should ban the practice of reduction fishing in their territorial waters. Financiers should stop underwriting reduction fishing operations and the downstream businesses that purchase from them. Consumers should demand that their food and the food of their pets is not raised using this wasteful practice.
You can support this effort by joining the Forage Fish Defenders. Add your name to the growing list of people who want to save forage fish, and in so doing, the ocean ecosystem.
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