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How Many Fish Are in the Sea?

Oct 5, 2016

The Atlantic: Climate change is disrupting ocean conditions so fast that even the most responsibly crafted management plan based on the best possible data would struggle to keep up. Andy Pershing, chief scientific officer at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, has seen this play out with cod in the Gulf of Maine, whose waters are some of the fastest warming in the world. With that environmental change has come shifts in species’ range, predator-prey relationships, and fish behavior, none of which are accounted for in the fishery managers’ statistical models. Pershing says that over the past decade, failure to factor in variations related to climate change has led scientists to think there should be more fish than there actually were in New England waters, meaning that managers set quotas based on inaccurate numbers. The result? “You end up creating this really frustrating situation where fishermen are doing their job, they’re staying within the limits”—but, despite their sacrifices, the cod population continues to decline.