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Scientists link climate change and Atlantic croaker fishery
Date:3/24/2010

A new climate-population model developed by NOAA scientists to study rising ocean temperatures and fishing rates on one East Coast fish population could also forecast the impact of climate change and fishing on other fisheries. The model is one of the first to directly link a specific fish stock with climate change.

In a paper in the March 2010 issue of the journal Ecology Applications published online today by the Ecological Society of America, NOAA researchers forecast the future of the Atlantic croaker fishery in the mid-Atlantic under various climate and fishing scenarios. Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus) is a coastal marine fish inhabiting the east coast of the United States with an $8 million annual commercial fishery. Previous studies have shown a strong link between croaker abundance and winter temperatures.

"Some fish populations will increase and others decrease as a result of climate change," said lead author Jon Hare of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) laboratory in Narragansett, R.I. "Our results demonstrate that climate effects on fisheries must be identified andunderstood, included in the scientific advice to managers, and factored into fishery management plans if sustainable exploitation is to be achieved."

For various temperature and fish population scenarios over the next 90 years to 2100, the researchers forecast that at current levels of fishing, the spawning population of Atlantic croaker would increase between 60 and 100%, the center of the population would shift 50 to 100 kilometers (roughly 30 to 65 miles) northward, and the maximum sustainable yield would increase 30 to 100%.

With ocean temperatures expected to increase through the 21st century, the researchers developed the population model for Atlantic croaker based on the hypothesis that recruitment, or survival of juveniles to adulthood, is determined by winter water temperature. Atlantic croaker spawn in the coastal
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Contact: Shelley Dawicki
Shelley.Dawicki@noaa.gov
508-495-2378
NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center
Source:Eurekalert

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