Climate & Fisheries
Fish and fisheries are vulnerable to the current rapid rate of climate change. Rising atmosphere and ocean temperatures, increased intensity of weather disturbances, and sea level rise are symptomatic of global warming. Physical, chemical and biological instabilities in ecosystems go along with these first order changes. Such alterations in fishery habitat can affect the health and diversity of species, their distribution, and their relative abundance in a large marine ecosystem such as the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank area. Impacts are expected to be greatest on populations still in early stages of recovery from past overfishing. Among them is the popular fishery species conglomerate known as groundfish (those fish living in bottom waters) off the northeastern coast of the US.
The potential for change in New England is particularly great since the region lies at the confluence of two major ocean current patterns and therefore is in a transition zone between cold waters to the north and warm waters to the south. In this region, some cold-water species are living near the upper end of their temperature tolerance range, and some warm water species are near the low end of their temperature range. It is easy to see that warming waters could change the mix and relative abundances of fisheries species and the food species (forage) upon which they rely. All this must be anticipated in precautionary management programs for such vulnerable fisheries, and the ability to adapt to unpredicted changes should be built into the system.
NAMA seeks to transform the policies and decision making processes affecting fisheries and environmental management. Our goal is to ensure that marine conservation plans and programs for restoring habitats and rebuilding populations account for the impact of climate change.
Learn more about Fishery Habitat changes commonly associated with climate change.