Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

New England Fishing Communities Being Destroyed by 'Climate Shocks'

Climate
New England Fishing Communities Being Destroyed by 'Climate Shocks'
The climate crisis is changing the New England fishing industry, a new report says. Ed Dunens / Flickr

By Eoin Higgins

The climate crisis is hurting the New England fishing industry, claims a new report published Monday, with a decline of 16% in fishing jobs in the northeastern U.S. region from 1996 to 2017 and more instability ahead.


University of Delaware researcher Kimberly Oremus' paper, "Climate variability reduces employment in New England fisheries," was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"This is an important signal to incorporate into the fisheries management process," Oremus told Science X. "We need to figure out what climate is doing to fisheries in order to cope with it."

Oresmus found that the fishing industry is in trouble due to variations in ocean temperature. Of particular concern is the Gulf of Maine, an area of the ocean warming faster than nearly any other in the world.

"New England waters are among the fastest-warming in the world," said Oremus said. "Warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures have been shown to impact the productivity of lobsters, sea scallops, groundfish and other fisheries important to the region, especially when they are most vulnerable, from spawning through their first year of life."

As The New Food Economy explained, the New England fishing industry has been under threat for decades due to overfishing and climate change.

Due to overfishing, cod stocks are nearly depleted. To avert complete collapse, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration now sets limits on fish catches, or quotas. In the past decade, catches have plummeted, from 100 million pounds of cod in the early 1980s to a fraction today.

Oresums told HuffPost's Alexander Kaufman that while her research shows the fisheries' decline is driven by warmer winters, she wasn't able to get a full picture of the crisis.

"This doesn't capture all the anthropogenic climate change," said Oresmus. "There's probably additional warming on top of the variability that I don't account for."

According to Kaufman:

The Gulf of Maine, which stretches from Nova Scotia in Canada to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, has warmed faster than 99% of global oceans, increasing by an average of 0.11 degrees Fahrenheit per year over the past three decades. While temperatures fluctuate, melting Arctic ice is weakening the southward current that once flushed the basin with cold waters from Greenland, putting the basin's temperatures on a firm upward trajectory.
The effects have made the fishing industry even less predictable than in years past. Record lobster hauls over the past decade in Maine now look set to decline, according to two studies published in the past month. The New England fishery for Northern shrimp, once a winter mainstay, is set to remain closed for a seventh consecutive year. An iconic seafood processing firm in Gloucester, Massachusetts, went bankrupt in May.

Ultimately, Oresmus told The New Food Economy, New Englanders have to prepare for a different-looking coastal future.

"The individuals who can't weather these climate shocks are the small mom-and-pop businesses and smaller fishing establishments," said Oresmus. "There are communities that are just not going to be fishing communities anymore."

Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.

Lakota spiritual leader Chief Arvol Looking Horse attends a demonstration against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 28, 2015. Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is planning to cancel the controversial Keystone XL pipeline on the first day of his administration, a document reported by CBC on Sunday suggests.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst stand at the Orion spacecraft during a visit at the training unit of the Columbus space laboratory at the European Astronaut training centre of the European Space Agency ESA in Cologne, Germany on May 18, 2016. Ina Fassbender / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

By Monir Ghaedi

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep most of Europe on pause, the EU aims for a breakthrough in its space program. The continent is seeking more than just a self-sufficient space industry competitive with China and the U.S.; the industry must also fit into the European Green Deal.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A new species of bat has been identified in West Africa. MYOTIS NIMBAENSIS / BAT CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL

In 2018, a team of researchers went to West Africa's Nimba Mountains in search of one critically endangered species of bat. Along the way, they ended up discovering another.

Read More Show Less
Seabirds often follow fishing vessels to find easy meals. Alexander Petrov / TASS via Getty Images

By Jim Palardy

As 2021 dawns, people, ecosystems, and wildlife worldwide are facing a panoply of environmental issues. In an effort to help experts and policymakers determine where they might focus research, a panel of 25 scientists and practitioners — including me — from around the globe held discussions in the fall to identify emerging issues that deserve increased attention.

Read More Show Less
A damaged home and flooding are seen in Creole, Louisiana, following Hurricane Laura's landfall on August 27, 2020. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Elliott Negin

What a difference an election makes. Thanks to the Biden-Harris victory in November, the next administration is poised to make a 180-degree turn to again address the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less