Please select your home edition
Edition

Recreational fishery data reveals climate-driven shifts for Atlantic Highly Migratory Species catch

by NOAA Fisheries 22 Apr 2023 19:06 UTC
A new study identifies shifting distributions of Atlantic Highly Migratory Species catch, including tunas, billfish, and sharks, off the northeastern United States, providing understanding about climate change impacts to the recreational fishery © NOAA Fisheries

A new study by NOAA Fisheries has identified shifting distributions of Atlantic Highly Migratory Species catch, including tunas, billfish, and sharks, off the northeastern United States.

The findings are part of efforts to better understand the effects of climate change on marine species and the fishing communities that rely on them.

"Shifts in the timing and location of Highly Migratory Species catch have important implications for recreational anglers, including seasonal fishing tournaments, and coastal communities that rely on these fisheries," said lead author Dr. Dan Crear, Marine Spatial Ecologist, NOAA Fisheries HMS Management Division. "Fishermen may have to travel farther and/or fish earlier in the year to find certain target species. The species found at a favorite fishing spot may be changing over time, with species typically found further south becoming more common in northern waters earlier."

"It was striking to see the extent of shifts in the catch for some of these species over the last 20 years," said author Dr. Tobey Curtis, Fishery Management Specialist, NOAA Fisheries HMS Management Division. "Fishermen are observing these changes in fish distributions, and adapting to these shifts."

The study used recreational fishery data collected as part of NOAA's Large Pelagics Survey to explore the locations and timing of HMS recreational catches from 2002 through 2019. Recent studies are finding that HMS and other species in the region are generally shifting northward along the coast and arriving earlier in the year as ocean temperatures warm. These behavioral shifts are now reflected in HMS recreational catches, according to this current study. For example, catches of large and small bluefin tuna were found to be shifting northward at a rate of 4-10 kilometers (2.5-6.2 miles) per year.

The spatial shifts appeared to be related to the increasing water temperatures across the study region, which spanned from Maine through Virginia. Recreational catches of blue sharks and thresher sharks are shifting northward at rates of 30-40 km (19-25 miles) for each 1 degreesC increase in water temperature.

The survey collects data from June through October each year when most offshore recreational fishing occurs. The study found that catches for most HMS have been occurring earlier in the season over time. For example, early bluefin tuna catches off Massachusetts in 2019 were estimated to have occurred 80 days earlier than in 2002. Similarly, early blue shark catches were estimated 66 days earlier off Connecticut, and early blue marlin catches were estimated 27 days earlier off New York.

"Understanding these shifts allows managers to be more responsive and flexible, and also helps communities prepare for changes, whether it be a switch to fishing for a new species or shifts in the fishing season," added Dr. Crear.

"NOAA Fisheries is committed to helping fishing communities plan and respond to how climate affects the species we manage," said Randy Blankinship, chief of the Atlantic HMS Management Division. "This study demonstrates the utility of publicly accessible fisheries survey data and how communicating with fishermen can help us sustain these valuable HMS fisheries in the face of a changing ocean."

Results from this study may be used to improve the Large Pelagics Survey and will be considered in ongoing agency climate initiatives such as the Climate, Ecosystem, and Fisheries Initiative and the implementation of the NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy.

This study can be viewed through the NOAA Central Library and the Wiley Online Library.

Related Articles

Restoring coral and stream banks
Through the National Fish Habitat Partnership Partners are making great strides in habitat restoration and angler engagement projects in Hawai'i and Alaska. Posted on 22 Jun
Strategies to optimize sablefish sustainability
Scientists & fishermen collaborated to identify management approaches for this commercial species Sablefish don't recognize political boundaries. These highly migratory fish move freely across the state and national lines within which they are managed. Posted on 18 Jun
Largest salt marsh restoration in the Northeast
NOAA and partners help river herring safely reach spawning grounds by restoring a degraded estuary After decades of planning, NOAA and our partners are moving forward with the Herring River Restoration Project, the largest salt marsh restoration effort in the northeast United States. Posted on 17 Jun
Yelloweye rockfish and bocaccio need protection
No change warranted in Endangered Species Act status of two rockfish species in Puget Sound/Georgia NOAA Fisheries has reviewed the current status of threatened Puget Sound/Georgia Basin yelloweye rockfish and endangered bocaccio, as required under the Endangered Species Act. Posted on 16 Jun
Podcast: Teaching Kids to Fish and Love the Water
Dive in with NOAA Fisheries NOAA Fisheries and partners are working with communities in South Carolina to get kids involved in fishing and environmental conservation. Posted on 13 Jun
Frustrating experience for fishermen in Atlantic
Noaa fisheries continues to work with partners and fishermen to find solutions to shark depredation Shark depredation is the partial or complete removal of a hooked fish by a shark directly from an angler's line before the line can be retrieved. It is a growing concern for recreational anglers. Posted on 11 Jun
McKenzie River restoration benefiting Chinook
Salmon successfully reproduced at Finn Rock restoration site in Oregon's McKenzie River watershed NOAA's Office of Habitat Conservation and partners are increasing numbers of threatened Upper Willamette River Chinook salmon by restoring habitat in Oregon's McKenzie River watershed. Posted on 9 Jun
Exploring strategies to reduce red snapper discard
NOAA Fisheries is recommending nearly $900,000 in funding for projects that will reduce discards NOAA Fisheries recognizes that recreational and commercial fishers, fishery managers, and others are frustrated by short fishing seasons for South Atlantic red snapper and high levels of dead discards. Posted on 7 Jun
ESA listing of chinook salmon may be warranted
Missed escapement goals, decreasing size and age at maturity are factors in the decision In response to a petition to list Gulf of Alaska Chinook salmon as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, NOAA Fisheries has found that listing may be warranted. Posted on 1 Jun
Ship to Shore: Live from Research Vessel Sikuliaq
Join researchers from NOAA Fisheries on board Join researchers from NOAA Fisheries and other organizations on board the research vessel Sikuliaq for in-person Ship to Shore events! Posted on 12 May