Oily baitfish may be among the smallest in the sea, but they play a vital role in the marine ecosystem.

Without them, there would be no food for coastal birds and other marine life. But as habitat degradation impacts the abundance of the forage fish found in Florida’s coastal waters, there could be adverse effects for fish-eating birds.

Environmental leaders will come together to discuss the importance of keeping healthy populations of prey fish during a forum at the University of Central Florida’s Daytona Beach Regional Campus on Tuesday, Aug. 20.

Doors open at 6 p.m., and the program will run from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The event will be held in building 150, auditorium 101.

Representatives from the Pew Charitable Trusts will lead the discussion how to proactively manage fish populations and help the birds who depend on them.

The forum is hosted by the Walter and Betty Boardman Foundation, which awards grants for environmental and natural resource research and studies pertaining to Volusia County and the land surrounding it.