Waters off the coast of New England have warmed up more than any other coastal areas in the United States — up to 3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1901. That's according to a new analysis of recently collected federal ocean data by the independent research nonprofit Climate Central.
Their report also notes that fresh and salt waters across the United States are warming 40% faster than expected.
In New England, this means changes for the fishing industry: Cold water fish are moving to deeper waters, and species from warmer climates are moving in, according to research fishery biologist Vincent Saba of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center.
“We’ve seen dramatic shifts in where fishermen are catching species today, versus where they were being caught say 15 or 20 years ago,” Saba says.
For certain species, New England has become a new home. Saba says, for example, black sea bass are moving north along the East Coast to the Northeast. At the same time, native Atlantic cod is being forced out to cooler, deeper waters.
“If the fish are moving deeper, it’s going to change the way fishermen are going to fish for those fish — could mean different gear types, longer tow times, changes in location, and also changes in biomass and productivity,” Saba says.
Saba is hopeful about the research being done in New England, which can help the fishing industry monitor and react quickly to the changes in species.
"In the Northeast we’re ahead of the game a little bit when it comes to climate change research," says Saba. Part of the reason, he says, is because our region is warming so fast.