A new US study has revealed that a rapid rise in the temperature of the Gulf of Maine across the eastern US has made the water unbearably hot for cod. This, in turn, has pushed stocks towards collapse in spite of severe decrease in the volume of fish trapped.
According to researchers, during the last 10 years, the temperature of waters in the Gulf of Maine has increased 99% faster than the remaining oceans of the world. According to them, this has happened due to shifts in the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Gulf Stream and ongoing climate change.
The findings of the study have made is clear that there’s a need of keeping records of fish stocks based on the previous data of catches. Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s chief scientific officer Andrew Pershing said that the traditional method of calculation kept on overestimating the profusion of cod. Pershing also happens to be the study’s lead author.
When explaining the reason behind the wrong estimations, Pershing said that vigorous changes outpaced the research team’s ability of recognizing and reacting to events taking place in the water.
In the past few years, we have seen fisheries managers cutting the cod quotas; however, still population of cod kept on decreasing due to the rapid increase in Gulf of Maine’s temperature.
From 2004, each year has seen temperature of the Gulf of Maine increase by over 0.4°F or 0.23°C. This constant increase in water temperature resulted in formation of an ocean heat wave in north-western Atlantic around three years back.
Due to the heat wave, the year 2013 saw commercial cod landings at the Gulf of Maine come down to 1,000 tons. This fall was a big one as according to numbers put up by the US Department of Commerce, the year 2009 experienced a cod landing of as much as 6,000 tons.
Experts at the United Nations say that a number of fish stocks have started moving towards the poles due to the constant increase in global temperatures. For instance, at present cod are available in plenty in the comparatively cooler waters of Greenland, Norway, and Canada.
Study coauthor Katherine Mills said that the situation in the Gulf of Maine should be treated as a wake-up call. She stated that the findings of the study show that there must be better coordination between fisheries management and climate scientists.