Widespread loss of their suitable habitat and a redistribution of the current one, that is the future that awaits predatory marine fish species in the Ocean Northwest Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico from now to 2100 due to global warming. A study, published in the journal Science Advances, has monitored twelve of them in these oceanic regions, some areas of the planet where it is warming most rapidly and which, according to climate models, are expected to increase between 1 °C and 6 °C by the end of the century.
This impact on marine ecosystems will cause some of these fish to lose up to 70% of its suitable habitat by 2100 and, in most cases, the effects of these climate-induced changes are already observable.
“The current and projected effects of climate change highlight the urgent need to adaptively and proactively manage dynamic marine ecosystems,” they warn in the work.
Climate change is expected to radically change the situation of these species and their way of life
Camrin Braun, scientist and marine ecologist
The study, led by Camrin Braun, a scientist and marine ecologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), identified areas off the southeastern US and Atlantic coasts as predicted hotspots of ocean loss. habitats. The researchers studied the impact on three species of sharks (blue shark, porbeagle and shortfin mako), five of tunas (albacore, bigeye tuna, bluefin, bonito and yellowfin tuna) and four of billfish (sailfish, blue marlin, white marlin and swordfish).
Although the scientists’ model does not capture the possible adaptability or thermal tolerance of the species, the results “suggest a predominant and widespread loss of habitat for almost all [las especies altamente migratorias] studied”, they emphasize.
“It is expected that climate change will radically change the situation of these species and their way of life. Although we don’t know all the details, this study is a good step in trying to determine what those changes might be so that we can do something about it,” Braun says.
Satellite images and empirical data
Scientists used three decades of satellite data, oceanographic models and biological data on site to develop dynamic species distribution models to assess how climate change has already affected and will continue to affect fish species in these regions.
“Our research shows that climate-induced changes are being produced now. We rely on empirical data observed in the last two decades. So while our results point to larger species changes in the short term, they also shed light on the substantial changes in species distribution that have already occurred,” he says. Rebecca Lewisonco-author of the study.
The study highlights the importance of using data from NASA and other satellites to understand how a changing ocean is affecting marine species.
Rebecca Lewison, study co-author
Lewison is a professor of biology and a conservation ecologist at San Diego State University’s Coastal and Marine Institute. According to the scientist, the results of the research “highlight the importance of using the NASA data and from other satellites to understand how a changing ocean is affecting commercially important marine species such as swordfish and tuna.”
For Tobey Curtis, study co-author and fisheries management specialist in NOAA Fisheries’ Division of Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Management: “Marine conservation and management efforts must plan for these ongoing changes. If migratory fish are on the move, fishing vessels and coastal communities will also have to adapt. Studies like this will help marine resource agencies to be even more proactive in their decision making.”
Concern for fisheries
Changes in the habitat and distribution of these species are of increasing concern for associated fisheries and the socioeconomic repercussions associated with climate change, according to the article.
Braun notes that the motivation for this research is not only to better understand fish and marine ecosystems, but also to understand how the changes affect people, their livelihoods, coastal communities and commercial fishing.
We are doing everything we can to find out what will happen so that people can adapt
Tobey Curtis, Fisheries Management Specialist
“We are doing everything possible to find out what will happen, so that people can adapt and so that we can develop climate-resilient or climate-ready management policies,” he stresses.
According to Curtis, historical methods of managing fisheries are static, despite the fact that fish move around a lot. “We basically draw a box in the ocean and say whether or not you can fish there,” she explained. Dynamic ocean management frameworks “must incorporate expected changes. Otherwise, we are left with a static box in the ocean that doesn’t move, even though the fish have moved and the ocean has changed,” he concludes.
Camrin D. Braun et al. “Widespread habitat loss and redistribution of marine top predators in a changing ocean”. Science Advances
Rights: Creative Commons.
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