Barbara Russo – 718-265-3428; 917-494-5493;

Max Pulsinelli – 718-220-5182;

New York’s Little Fishes Get Big Support from the Public


·        Fish and invertebrates that form the base of the food chain need protection

·        Krill, sand lance, and false albacore are among species being considered for protection by the Mid Atlantic Fisheries Management Council

·        More than 5,000 Wildlife Conservation Society facilities visitors and online advocates signed petitions, made drawings, and wrote haikus – small poems for small fishes – to protect forage fish

·        Young visitors wrote creative and fun haikus to show support for forage fish protection (Photos Attached)


Brooklyn, N.Y.  – July 14, 2016- More than 5,000 people took a stand to protect some little fishes and invertebrates that live right off the coast of New York, New Jersey, and the Mid Atlantic: Forage species including false albacore, sand lance, and krill. Forage species are a critical link in the healthy functioning of marine food webs in all coastal and ocean habitats of the Mid-Atlantic and around the world.

As part of a broad coalition, supporters and visitors to WCS’s New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, and many WCS members throughout the region submitted more than 5,000 letters, petitions, drawings and haikus asking the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (MAFMC) to consider protecting forage species in the Mid-Atlantic, including those that live in the Hudson Canyon, the East Coast’s largest submarine canyon located 100 miles off the coast of New York City. The petitioning took place during a special public comment period administered by the MAFMC.

 “We are grateful for all the support we’ve garnered over the last month to protect these small, but very important, residents of the sea,” said Jon Forrest Dohlin, WCS Vice President and Director of the New York Aquarium. “We urge the MAFMC to safeguard forage fish and invertebrates. By protecting these species, we are protecting the long-term health of our local marine ecosystem and the food web that helps support commercial and recreation fishing, as well as the wildlife that lives here. It’s like the game Jenga –if we pull out all the lower blocks the entire structure tumbles. We want that base – here the bottom links in the food web – to be healthy and productive.”

These small species feed on plankton and other fishes at the base of the food chain and also serve as an important food source for a wide range of marine wildlife from whales and seabirds to larger fish like tunas, sharks, billfish, and hundreds of other species.

Globally, forage fish species represent approximately 35 percent of commercial fisheries’ landings by weight. Although they are not eaten directly by people in this area, demand is growing for their use as feed in aquaculture and livestock industries, fish oil, vitamin supplements, cosmetics, and fertilizer. Without forage fish protection, unmanaged fisheries for them could threaten local populations of marine wildlife, as well as other fisheries for larger species that depend on forage species as their prey.

Fisheries managers at the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council have drafted an Unmanaged Forage Fish Omnibus Amendment, which is designed to prevent new commercial fisheries for forage species from developing until sound science-based measures are in place to effectively manage these fisheries. If approved, this set of conservation-oriented regulations will pay important dividends for commercial and recreational fish species along with ensuring an adequate food base for other wildlife in our ocean backyard.

The hiakus, drawings and petitions from WCS and partner organizations have been sent to the MAFMC for consideration. The Council is expected to vote on protections in early August at its next meeting.

The New York Aquarium works to protect local waters through its NY Seascape Program. The program is designed to restore healthy populations of local marine species—many of them threatened—and protect New York marine waters and habitats, which are vital to wildlife and key to the area’s economic and cultural vitality. 

For more information or to speak with a WCS expert, contact Barbara Russo at 718-265-3428 or

Wildlife Conservation Society's New York Aquarium is open every day of the year. Summer hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Fall/winter/spring hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., daily. Tickets are $11.95 per person (ages 3 & up), and include Aquarium admission plus one admission to the new 4-D Theater; children age 2 and under are admitted free. Fridays after 4 p.m. in the summer and after 3 p.m. in the fall, Aquarium admission is by pay-what-you-wish donation.  The aquarium is located on Surf Avenue at West 8th Street in Coney Island.  The New York Aquarium is located on property owned by the City of New York, and its operation is made possible in part by public funds provided through the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. For directions, information on public events and programs, and other aquarium information, call 718-265-FISH or visit our web site at Now is the perfect time to visit and show support for the WCS New York Aquarium, a beloved part of Brooklyn and all of the City of New York. Due to Hurricane Sandy we are partially opened. Check our website for more information.


WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in nearly 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: Follow: @WCSNewsroom. For more information: 347-840-1242.


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