This project will estimate the historical declines of three forage fish populations in the northwest Atlantic and the resulting impacts on the ecosystem. Populations of large predators, such as tuna and cod, are at historic lows. Overfishing is a primary cause, but the overexploitation of their prey also may have reduced the predators’ ability to rebuild their populations. Estimating the declines in forage species could elucidate the impact of their removal on the ecosystem as a whole.
The research team will employ historical records and current fisheries data to estimate population declines and then use scientific models to generate anticipated returns of top predators under different forage fish restoration options. This project will generate information to help contrast different policies for setting forage fish catch limits.