Little Fish, Big Impact

A report from the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force

With support from the Lenfest Ocean Program, the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University convened the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force, a panel of 13 preeminent marine and fisheries scientists from around the world. The primary purpose of the Task Force was to provide practical, science-based advice for the management of forage fish because of these species’ crucial role in marine ecosystems and because of the need for an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management. The Task Force conducted original research and synthesis to advance scientific understanding and to inform their management recommendations.

The management advice presented in the report provides a set of robust, precautionary standards, management targets, and biomass thresholds that can be used broadly to support the maintenance of forage fish populations as an important feature of marine ecosystems. The Task Force understands that every ecosystem is unique and would benefit from tailor-made solutions that account for individual characteristics, management structure, and research capacity of each system. However, they believe that the guidance provided herein will prove widely useful in holistic management of forage fish fisheries because it is flexible enough to be applied in data-rich situations as well as low-information scenarios. The results and recommendations contained within the report advance scientific understanding and provide necessary and credible guidance for applying an ecosystem-based approach for management of forage fish species.

Task Force Members

  • Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, Chair, Professor and Executive Director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University
  • Dr. P. Dee Boersma, Professor and Director of the Center for Penguins as Ocean Sentinels, University of Washington
  • Dr. Ian L. Boyd, Professor and Director of the NERC Sea Mammal Research Unit and the Scottish Oceans Institute, University of St Andrews
  • Dr. David O. Conover, Professor, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University
  • Dr. Philippe Cury, Director of the Centre de Recherche Halieutique Méditerranéenne et Tropicale
  • Dr. Tim Essington, Associate Professor, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington
  • Dr. Selina S. Heppell, Associate Professor, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University
  • Dr. Edward D. Houde, Professor, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory
  • Dr. Marc Mangel, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Stock Assessment Research, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Dr. Daniel Pauly, Professor, Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Canada Dr. Éva Plagányi, Senior Research Scientist, Marine and Atmospheric Research, CSIRO
  • Dr. Keith Sainsbury, Professor, Institute of Marine and Antarctic Science, University of Tasmania, Australia, and Director of SainSolutions Pty Ltd
  • Dr. Robert S. Steneck, Professor, School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine
  • Project Director: Christine Santora, Institute for Ocean Conservation Science, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, USA