Off the Atlantic Coast, fish are fleeing traditional waters that are now warming rapidly. In hot pursuit are fishermen, along with scientists and governments trying to understand and respond to these changes.

Black sea bass once caught off the coast of Virginia are now found off New Jersey. And New Jersey’s shad are now swimming further north. While the range of their quarry is important to fishermen, so is the timing of fishes’ temperature-driven winter migrations.

DiDOMENICO: “Fish are dependent upon a very, very distinct temperature niche… and the pelagic fish like the squids, butterfish, mackerels, herrings, they are all very attuned to a distinct thermal envelope. For the fishermen, they’re realizing that what they’re looking for — these certain temperatures that drive fish into these areas — that is occurring later and later each year.”

That’s Greg DiDomenico of the Garden State Seafood Association. He says fishermen are adapting with the help of technology and an age-old knack for flexibility. But some policies, such as those involving state catch quotas, are not keeping up. So new approaches will be needed to help both fish and fishermen survive and thrive in the “new normal” of a changing change.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Black sea bass (copyright protected).

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Sara Peach

Sara Peach is the Senior Editor of Yale Climate Connections. She is an environmental journalist whose work has appeared in National Geographic, Scientific American, Environmental Health News, Grist, and...