Forage fish like river herring and shad are a key part of the marine food web, providing food for commercially and recreationally important species such as tuna, cod, and striped bass, as well as for sharks, dolphins, whales, and birds. These fish are essential to healthy fisheries, stable marine ecosystems, and the communities that depend on them.
Unfortunately, demand for forage fish—which are used to make fertilizer, livestock feed, and consumer products like cosmetics—is increasing worldwide. Right now, much of the U.S. does not have measures in place to avoid drastic declines in forage populations and the resulting negative impacts on the marine ecosystem and associated coastal economies.
For example, despite significant work to improve conservation of river herring and shad in the rivers where they spawn, there are no biologically-based catch limits in place for these fish to promote their sustainable management in the ocean.
Ask your member of Congress to introduce legislation to protect forage fish.
To make sure that there are enough forage fish to fulfill their essential ecological roles, now and into the future, please urge your member of Congress to introduce legislation that would authorize fishery managers to establish stronger conservation measures for these crucial fish when they are in ocean waters.
Forage fish are vital for a healthy ocean and thriving coastal communities—they should be protected now.