Subscribe
First Look

Gulf of Maine is warming faster than rest of ocean. That’s bad news for cod.

The cod fishing industry in the Gulf of Maine is all but gone despite adherence to harvesting restrictions.

  • close
    A cod that will be auctioned off is held by Codie Small at the Portland Fish Exchange, Thursday, in Portland, Maine. Portland's Gulf of Maine Research Institute is announcing a major breakthrough in climate and fisheries science. A study published in the journal Science indicates cod, which have collapsed off of New England, are declining because of warming oceans.
    Robert F. Bukaty/AP
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

It’s a bad time to be a fish and chips lover in New England. Rapidly warming water temperatures in the Gulf of Maine are wreaking havoc on the cod population and fishing industries, according to a report published in Science magazine.

Maine's gulf, a key fishing area that stretches from Cape Cod to Canada and touches Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire, is warming too quickly for the cod in the area. The gulf has warmed faster than 99 percent of the world’s oceans, the researchers found.

Fishing managers say the area is at about 3 percent of sustainable levels and the fisheries could face even more drastic cuts to help replenish the population.

Harvesting restrictions have been in place for quite some time, but because quota plans did not take warming waters into account, they have failed to adequately preserve the population, as The Christian Science Monitor reported earlier this week.

"Rapid changes outpaced our ability to recognize and react to what was happening in the water," Andrew Pershing, the lead author of the study, told an online news conference.

"Every animal has a temperature range that they prefer. The Gulf of Maine, for cod, is really at the warm end of that," Pershing told The Associated Press. "If you warm it, you push it somewhere that's really uncomfortable."

The decline in cod populations has devastated the commercial Atlantic cod industry in New England as well as Georges Bank. In 2001, 33 million pounds of cod were caught in those areas. In 2013, less than 5 million pounds was brought ashore.

The shortage has driven the price of local cod sky high in New England and many restaurants are importing from Iceland and Norway. Other restaurants are using different kinds of fish completely.

Recommended: The next food revolution: fish farming?

Cod are still thriving off Canada, Greenland, and many of the Nordic countries, which is in keeping with projections that global warming might be pushing many fish species to the poles, where the water is colder. 

"The Gulf of Maine cod is a wake-up call," Katherine Mills, one of the authors of the Science report, told Reuters.

Ms. Mills said it was unlikely that the Gulf of Maine region would ever recover to pre-crisis levels for cod. Experts have laid out a recovery plan for the species that is slowed by warming waters.

This report includes material from The Associated Press and Reuters.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK