Fishermen have been suffering from the consequences of overfishing for decades leading to what they perceive as ill-conceived regulations limiting their catches. The rising temperature of the oceans is now accelerating their problems as fish flee north and local populations of fish, mollusks, and other marine animals are disappearing at twice the rate of land-based species. In the ocean there are simply fewer places to duck the heat. 

The implications of this migration are great: almost half of 36 northwest Atlantic species have moved northward in the last 40 years as water temperatures have warmed. 

The economic effect on fishermen is profound. According to a study released in December, 2019, climate change was responsible for removing 16 percent of jobs in New England’s most afflicted fishing communities. 

Looking forward, a recently released U.S. National Climate Assessment warned that by mid-century, if greenhouse gas emissions continue at a high rate, 86% of U.S. marine ecosystems will experience combinations of temperature and acidity that have never before been experienced by modern species. 

In addition to migration, global warming is also affecting the ability of fish to reproduce. Atlantic cod populations, for example, could drop by as much as 60%. And, in a study done in 2008 and released in 2010, a coalition of hunting and fishing organizations outlined the consequences of climate change on fish and wildlife in the US, with a strong focus on fish like trout and salmon in our rivers as they become drier and hotter.

DESIGN BY LINDSAY LAFRENIERE, NIPPON FOUNDATION-NEREUS PROGRAM  SOURCE: EUREKA ALERT

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