New England Fisheries

Setting the Record Straight on Forage Fish

The Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force has published peer-reviewed science on the importance of forage fish like these menhaden. (Photo credit: Phillip Jones; Photo courtesy of South Carolina Department of Natural Resources)

Here at Talking Fish we enjoy the mix of fishing-related news stories from around the web that the folks at Seafood News  pull together. That’s why it was disappointing to read a recent item at that site that contained glaring factual inaccuracies.

The Thursday, May 9, piece from Saving Seafood, titled “Pew’s recommendations and assumptions in calling for conservation of forage fish questioned,” contained the following flat-out falsehood:

“…a lack of peer-review of the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force that the paper extensively cites, should raise significant questions…”

Huh? A simple fact check or even a casual Google search would show that that is just plain wrong.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force brought together thirteen preeminent scientists from around the globe for a comprehensive examination of the science and management of forage fish populations. These small prey fish are important links in ocean food webs and the task force report had important recommendations for how to manage fisheries that target forage fish.

The report’s acknowledgements clearly state that it was peer-reviewed by three independent reviewers. Furthermore, the task force submitted a paper that was peer reviewed and published in the highly respected journal Fish and Fisheries. That paper synthesized data obtained from multiple independent studies of marine ecosystems around the world and analyzed the value of contributions of forage fish species (as part of the food web in marine ecosystems, as direct catch, and as food for commercially targeted fish).

Saving Seafood got it wrong and Seafood News failed to catch the error. The task force has put forth strong peer-reviewed science on the importance of forage fish, and Seafood News shouldn’t sell its results short.


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