Evaluating the Historical Role of Forage Fish in Lost Fisheries Production: Implications for Future Sustainability

Wednesday, September 11, 2013: 10:20 AM
Hoffman (The Marriott Little Rock)
Adrian Jordaan , Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA
This presentation will cover recent and ongoing work demonstrating significant population declines of forage fish species along the east coast of North America. These trends are not a recent phenomenon, often related to economic and ecological changes more than 100 years ago. Harvest practices and land-use change combined with climatic shifts to alter species distributions and abundance and, as a result, methods and locations used by coastal fishing communities also shifted. While individual species declines have remained the focus of restoration and management policy, the consequence of reduced abundance and distributions of diadromous and other migratory fish species is the erosion of ecological connections amongst what are now identified as distinct ecosystem units. Promoting restoration of forage species will have to reconcile local to global origins of stress on populations and ensure conservation actions are targeting the correct sources of decline. While the efforts may appear daunting, the improvement of populations will have far removed positive impacts across ecosystem components.