Every fish in the sea responds differently to warming oceans and off kilter ocean chemistry.
“The take home so far, what the consensus seems to be is that it will affect fisheries resources differentially – some will probably do better. It appears , for example, some species of salmon, pinks and chums, seem to do a little better under warmer conditions, some not so well.”
Terry Johnson is a Fisheries Professor and Marine Advisor with Sea Grant in Anchorage. His new report – Climate Change and Alaska Fisheries – highlights how some top species might be helped or harmed by warmer weather patterns. Milder winters can be a boon to freshwater growth and survival of some salmon, hot summers can mean more plankton blooms in sockeye producing lakes and rivers.
“The whole other issue with all of the salmon is in the end it comes down to what they find when they get to the ocean. If they get out of synch and a bunch of big robust sockeye who hit the ocean and there is nothing to eat because a bloom come and gone might not be an advantage.”
Halibut also could respond well to more plankton blooms from warmer waters. Not likely to fare as well are pollock and crab.
“A big concern is both pollock and crab are expected to decline significantly in this current century, over the next four or five decades. People who are coming into the industry may see those fishing opportunities decrease.”
The main reason for the project, Johnson says, is to explore ways the industry can adapt to the changes.
“Change is constant in fisheries. And what distinguishes fishermen from other occupational groups is they are constantly adapting to change on a year by year and day by day basis. Rather than obsessing about the good and the bad the ocean is producing because of climate, the focal point should be what on each community or each individual can do.”