Forage fish are found in all of Canada’s three oceans. Because they congregate in shoals, they are particularly vulnerable to environmental changes and overfishing. Many fisheries in Canada target forage fish to use as bait. The collapse of forage fish stocks is bad news for predators who depend on them as a source of food. For some species, like humpback whales, forage fish can account for 75 per cent of their diet.
In 2016, WWF-Canada released a report, Food for all, which warns that for three-quarters of Canadian forage fish fisheries, the status of the fish stock is unknown. The report found that in Canadian fisheries, decisions have and are being made on how many fish can be caught without knowing how many fish there are. Five of the stocks that we do have information on are in the critical zone.