New legislation aims to protect tiny fish that are vital to seabirds

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) has proposed legislation to protect food fish – small fish like anchovies, which are the main food source for seabirds, larger fish and other marine life. The Forage Fish Conservation Act amends the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the primary law governing marine fish management in US federal waters, to recognize, for the first time, the important role that forage fish play in the ecosystem.

“Sea birds like puffins and terns are vulnerable to changes in fish populations, whether from overfishing or climate change,” he said Sarah Greenberger, Senior Vice President, Conservation Policy, National Audubon Society. “We thank Sen. Blumenthal for his guidance in ensuring a future for the birds in our ocean.”

Puffin, Copyright Richard Stonier, from the Surfbirds Galleries

“This legislation will build on more than 40 years of successful fisheries management and will include forage fish, often referred to as bait fish, which form the basis of the marine food web. We are encouraged that Congress is taking great strides to protect these small but important fish and to help seabirds recover from decades of decline. “

This Senate bill serves as a companion to HR 2236 (also known as the Forage Fish Conservation Act), which was introduced in the House in April 2019 by Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Representative Brian Mast (R-FL) in the overwhelming bipartisan Support from members of the House as well as a variety of organizations including Audubon, the American Sportfishing Association, the National Wildlife Federation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

For more information on how Audubon is making the seas safer for birds, please visit


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