More than one-third of the world’s ocean fish catch is ground up to make animal feed, Reuters reported scientists as saying. A study, which will be published in the Annual Review of Environment and Resources, says the practice could be a problem for marine ecosystems and is a waste of food that could be used directly to nourish humans.
Researchers found that "forage fish" – small- to medium-sized fish, such as anchovies and sardines — account for 37%, or 31.5 million tonnes, of all fish taken from the world oceans each year. Of this catch, 90% is then made into fish meal or fish oil, most of which is used as agricultural and aquacultural feed. The removal of forage fish has a number of human and ecological consequences. In addition to interfering with human food security, the overfishing of forage fish could endanger the many species of larger marine life, such as the gulls and puffins that feed on them.
The scientists also agree that forage fish populations need to be carefully monitored, "Whatever people take out of the sea needs to be carefully calibrated to ensure that sufficient fish are left to sustain populations of other fish, seabirds and marine mammals, which all play a major role in the healthy functioning of the world’s oceans," said Joshua Reichert, of the Pew Environment Group.
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