Report: Climate changes place marine fisheries at higher risk

Ocean ecosystems are also “being disrupted,” according to NOAA study.

NATIONWIDE — The diverse waters of the United States, which supports jobs, recreation, sustenance and other benefits, is suffering from warming conditions, acidification and deoxygenation. These were the broad findings of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which was released in late November.

Increasing temperatures around the world is resulting in the loss of habitats and disrupts ecosystems, the report continued.

The effects of climate-driven changes are directly affecting the growth, survival and reproductive success of fisheries species around the world, according to the National Oceanic and Administration Association (NOAA) report.

“Warming water temperatures in the Gulf of Maine exacerbated overfishing of Gulf of Maine cod, and the subsequent low quotas have resulted in socioeconomic stress in New England,” a portion of the National Climate Assessment pointed out. “Reductions in the abundance of Pacific cod associated with the recent heat wave in the Gulf of Alaska led to an inability of the fishery to harvest the Pacific cod quota in 2016 and 2017, and to an approximately 80 percent reduction in the allowable quota in 2018.”

The management of fisheries in U.S. and international waters, the NOAA report added, will continue to face significant challenges.

“The productivity, distribution, and phenology of fisheries species will continue to change as oceans warm and acidify,” the NOAA report stated. “These changes will challenge the ability of existing U.S. and international frameworks to effectively manage fisheries resources and will have a variety of impacts on fisheries and fishing-dependent sectors and communities.”

NOAA’s report also delved into opportunities for reducing risk, stating a “substantial reduction of greenhouse gas emissions” could go a long way.

“A substantial reduction of greenhouse gas emissions would reduce climate-driven ocean changes and significantly reduce risk to fisheries,” the report stated.

“Warming, acidification, and deoxygenation interact with fishery management decisions, from seasonal and spatial closures to annual quota setting, allocations, and fish stock rebuilding plans,” the report continued. “Accounting for these factors is the cornerstone of climate-ready fishery management. Modeling studies show that climate-ready, ecosystem-based fisheries management can help reduce the impacts of some anticipated changes and increase resilience under changing conditions. There is now a national strategy for integrating climate information into fishery decision-making.”

Addressing the relationship between climate change and fishery management, the report ultimately stated, is essential to maintaining the cultural, economic and recreational opportunities afforded by ocean ecosystems.

“There has been progress in developing management strategies and technological improvements that can improve resilience in the face of long-term changes and abrupt events. However, many impacts, including losses of unique coral reef and sea ice ecosystems, can only be avoided by reducing carbon dioxide emissions,” the report’s section on ocean and marine resources concluded.

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