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Overfishing of Prey Species

Overfishing is occurring across the globe. Removing prey species without taking into account the needs of entire ecosystems can devastate entire communities.

Despite their critical roles in marine food webs, prey species remain ignored, unregulated and unaccounted for.

Fisheries are targeting prey species more than ever, as larger fish are exhausted by centuries of overexploitation.

Prey fish play critical roles in marine food webs, yet are often ignored in fisheries management. As prey are heavily exploited, predators suffer the consequences of limited food resources.

Today, the majority of stocks assessed by the FAO are fully or overexploited. Besides squid, every fishery targeting prey in the southeast Pacific is fully or overexploited, as are nearly all fisheries in the north Atlantic, central Atlantic, and north Pacific.

Only a small percentage, about 20 percent of currently fished populations, is available to predators to sustain themselves.

A wide range of predators throughout the U.S., including whales, birds and large fish, depend on prey species that are currently being exploited by fisheries.