Climate Change and Fishery Habitat

Jennifer books

Fishery habitat changes commonly associated with climate change:

  • Significant increases in temperature maxima of near-surface ocean waters and estuary waters.
  • Changes in dominant current and upwelling/downwelling patterns.
  • Coastal erosion and wetland inundation.
  • Significant changes in salinity patterns in estuaries.
  • Increased toxicity of pollutants and changes in water chemistry.
  • Changes in shallow bottom habitats affected by storms.
  • Short term changes in temperature and nutrient distribution patterns due to extreme weather events and changes in circulation.
  • Other potential storm impacts such as toxic chemical runoff and spills from storm-battered coastal areas and damaged ships.

Biological changes commonly associated with climate change:

  • Increases in intensity and extent of red tides.
  • Changes in the distribution and composition of species, including fish, as warmer maximum temperatures exclude some species and allow others to move in.
  • Exacerbation of other stresses like careless fishing causing commercial extinction of fished species and impoverishment of ecosystems.
  • Disruption of food webs and co-dependent groupings of species.
  • Changes in nutrient patterns leading to changes in production of primary producers (photosynthetic organisms) that form the base of the food chain.
  • Declines of traditionally productive fisheries species in response to new circulation, nutrient, and productivity patterns.
  • Nursery areas where fish lay eggs and larvae and juveniles have grown in relative protection, in estuaries and near shore, may become inhospitable — too warm or altered by high waters and storms.
  • Demise of species sensitive to chemical changes.
  • Depressed recovery of important fisheries species if environmental requirements are no longer met due to climate change.