Mass Protein Loss In World’S Fisheries

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Posted by on November 04, 2008 at 09:52:18:

A report to be published in the November issue of the Annual Review of Environment and Resources finds that 90% of the world's catch of forage fish is converted into fishmeal and fish oil. Already, a staggering 37% of fish landed around the world is made up of forage fish -- small- to medium-sized fish which are the primary food for larger fish, marine mammals, and seabirds.

The study authors have highlighted two main concerns: the net protein loss and the lack of management in forage fisheries.

The protein loss that occurs to generate many of our dinners is particularly concerning. To produce one pound of farmed Atlantic salmon, for example, 3-5 pounds of fishmeal is needed. Forage fish are highly nutritious and well-suited for human consumption. While livestock feed made from soy and other terrestrial plants is available, fishmeal is often a cheaper source of protein. In developing countries, this cheap source of protein often still is consumed by humans and, according to the study, "the use of forage fish for animal husbandry competes directly with human consumption."

Additionally, forage fisheries are often overlooked by management agencies because of their seemingly abundance; few management plans exist for these fisheries. But their importance in the foodweb and the ocean ecosystem makes their sustained abundance crucial for ocean health. The Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University, formerly the Pew Ocean Institute for Science, is launching the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force to address this issue, and plans to develop ecosystem-based fisheries management ideas by 2010.

The study was completed by the "Sea Around Us Project," which is a partnership between the University of Vancouver, British Columbia, and the Pew Charitable Trust, and was primarily funded by the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University. The abstract for the study is available at . More information on the study can be found in a 30 October 2008 Newswise article at www.newswise.com/articles/view/545745/?sc=rssn, and a 30 October 2008 Planet Ark - Reuters article at www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/50821/story.htm.

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