Ever seen a bobtail squid? How about spotted lanternfish, or Muller’s pearlside? If not, you have plenty of company. They’re just a few of the dizzying array of little fish found in the ocean that most people have never heard of, much less seen. But without them, much of what we think of as seafood wouldn’t be available.
Earlier this week, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, which regulates commercial fishing offshore in US waters, moved to protect roughly four dozen species of fish that are unlikely to wind up on anyone’s plate -- but still serve an ecologically important role as food for larger fish, sea birds and marine mammals.
At a meeting in Virginia Beach, the council amended existing fishery management plans to limit the catch of these forage fish, which until now had not been regulated. Specifically, trawlers are prohibited from hauling in more than 1,700 pounds of all the species combined on any single fishing trip.