Forage Fish Consumption by Marine Mammals and Seabirds

K. Kaschner, V. Karpouzi, R. Watson, D. Pauly, (2006). “Forage Fish Consumption by Marine Mammals and Seabirds,” Fisheries Centre Research Reports No. 14 (Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

This contribution presents estimates of the amounts and distributions of small pelagic fishes (i.e., ‘forage fish’) consumed by the 115 species of marine mammals and the 351 species of seabirds known to feed in the world’s marine waters. The methods used for mapping the distribution of these predators and of their prey, detailed elsewhere, are briefly recalled. Marine mammals, in the 1990s, annually consumed about 20.2 million t of small pelagics, or roughly 12 % of their food consumption, for seabirds, the corresponding figures, also applying to the 1990s, are 12.1 million t of small pelagics and 12.5 % of their food consumption. Overall, we find that marine mammals and seabirds do not compromise human exploitation of small pelagics. On the other hand, reduced biomasses of small pelagics are a challenge for numerous species of marine mammals and seabirds.