Northeast Fisheries Vulnerable to Climate Change

Written by on February 12, 2016 in Fish, Marine Life
An alewife, often called river herring, spends most of its life in the ocean. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries.

An alewife, often called river herring, spends most of its life in the ocean. Species that live in both fresh and saltwater are more vulnerable. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries.

New research from NOAA determined how vulnerable fish and invertebrates in the Northeastern U.S. are to the effects of climate change. The “multispecies assessment” examined 82 species and found that, while the majority will be affected in some way by climate change, some are more resilient than others.

The species assessed included all commercially managed fish and inverts in the region, many recreationally important fish, all marine fish species listed or under consideration for listing on the Endangered Species Act, and a number of other species.

“Our method identifies specific attributes that influence marine fish and invertebrate resilience to the effects of a warming ocean and characterizes risks posed to individual species,” Jon Hare, a fisheries oceanographer at NOAA Fisheries’ Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) and lead author of the study, explained in a news release. “This work will help us better account for the effects of warming waters on our fishery species in stock assessments and when developing fishery management measures.”

Young of the year haddock. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries.

Young of the year haddock. Species that live near the surface are less vulnerable. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries.

Using existing information on climate and ocean conditions, species distributions, and life history characteristics, the researchers estimated each species’ overall vulnerability. They found that species living near the water’s surface are the least vulnerable, as are “generalists” (species that can live in a wide range of habitats and/or eat many different kinds of pery). Species that live on the seafloor or migrate between fresh and saltwater are considered the most vulnerable.

Similar assessments will be conducted in other U.S. regions in the near future, giving researchers a big-picture view of the vulnerability of these important species.

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Copyright © 2016 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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