Tracking fish populations

16 Dec 2014
The Black Sea Bass is one of the species on the move to find cooler waters Photo: NOAA

The Black Sea Bass is one of the species on the move to find cooler waters. Photo: NOAA

A new online database to track fish populations aims to help fishermen and fisheries managers to adapt as the oceans get warmer.

As the climate changes and the oceans get warmer, fish are moving in search of cooler waters which can have a great impact on fishing livelihoods.

Now a new website called OceanAdapt has been launched on the back of studies conducted in 2013 which looked at more than 350 fish species from all over North America, including the Black Sea Bass. The studies found that many species are on the move and that their movements closely track changing ocean temperatures.

“We found that all over North America, marine fish and invertebrates are shifting their distributions quite rapidly,” said Malin Pinsky, a biologist at Rutgers University.

His study compiled data from more than 40 years of surveys conducted by scientists at NOAA Fisheries, Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans and other organisations. These studies were designed to produce estimates of fish abundance that managers use when setting catch limits. All of the information has now been brought together in one place on OceanAdapt.

OceanAdapt should be a valuable tool for fishermen, fishery managers and scientists who are grappling with the challenge of adapting to a changing climate. Users of the new website can search and download data on the geographic and depth ranges of more than 650 species of fish and invertebrates and track how those distributions have changed over time.

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