State of the bait: Study yields insight on tiny fish – AP via KIRO.TV

Forage fish are one of the foundational species in Puget Sound and the wider Salish Sea. Their importance to the food chain has only recently been more clearly understood. One reason for adding  more protection to beaches and the nearshore in updates to the Shoreline Master Programs, have been to look at protecting habitat used by these food sources for salmon and other fish as well as birds. Here’s a good short update on State efforts. Additionally to this, some of the Marine Resource Committees of the north Sound have been working on these efforts to protect forage fish, and educate the public to their importance.

Josh Frederick hops out of an idling state Department of Fish and Wildlife motorboat and begins scooping beach gravel into bag labeled with his precise location on Hood Canal. He pulls out a handful and gives it a hard look. “Nothing,” he says. Spotting the tiny, pen point-sized eggs of Puget Sound’s smallest fish isn’t easy, but this stretch of Misery Point has just about everything that spawning herring, smelt and other forage fish could want: shade from trees, few nearby homes, no bulkheads and a beach covered in the not-too-fine, not-too-gritty sediment they favor for tucking in their unhatched young…. Finding few eggs in ideal spawning grounds could be part of the mounting evidence that the sound’s forage fish are in decline. That’s bad news for salmon, seabirds and just about every marine animal bigger than the bait-sized fish. Tristan Baurick reports. (AP)

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