The FishAmerica Foundation (FAF), the research and conservation arm of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), this week announced a $15,000 donation to support research of forage fish off Florida’s coasts.
This donation will help fund the Florida Forage Fish Research Program, which supports graduate level research fellowships for students at Florida universities. Working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and administered by the International Game Fish Association, this fellowship will focus on forage fish research to gain a better understanding of the role they play in fisheries sustainability.
“Supporting additional research of Florida’s forage fish will inform better management decisions, ultimately helping to increase fishing opportunities,” said ASA’s Southeast Fisheries Policies Director Kellie Ralston. “These little fish play a big role in the marine food chain and the Florida Forage Fish Research Program will help us improve our understanding of their impacts. All of us at ASA have been working towards better management tools for forage fish and this research will help us achieve our goal.”
“Making sure forage fish populations are properly conserved is a top priority of ours at ASA,” said ASA’s Vice President of Government Affairs Mike Leonard. “We are committed to science-based management of these species, which will be benefitted by the Florida Forage Fish Research Program. This program is an excellent complement to our policy work focused on proper management of forage fish through passage of the Forage Fish Conservation Act.”
ASA has been working towards better policies and information to help manage forage fish populations. Forage fish, such as sardines, herring and anchovies, are small, nutrient-rich species that serve as a primary food source for most sportfish populations. With increasing interest in commercial harvest of forage fish, ASA believes managers should fully consider the impact forage fish have on sportfish populations and the larger marine ecosystem when setting catch limits.
Recently, the bipartisan Forage Fish Conservation Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Brian Mast (R-Fla.). This legislation, which ASA supports, would require the impacts on fish populations and the marine ecosystem be considered before allowing harvest on any currently unmanaged forage species, and that predator needs be accounted for in existing management plans for forage fish.
ASA founded the FishAmerica Foundation in 1983 to bring the sportfishing industry together with conservation groups, government agencies and other corporations and foundations to invest in habitat conservation and research to increase sportfishing opportunities for anglers.