In a research paper in the journal PLOS One, he says there's a lot of uncertainty in how fast this will happen. If the climate doesn't warm up too much, fish may take their time and not move too far. If it warms a lot, the fish will move farther and probably faster.
But even a shift of a couple hundred miles can put fish or lobster out of range for small boats with limited fuel and time to get to a new fish habitat. And it's a serious problem for organizations that manage fish stocks.
Richard Seagraves is a scientist formerly with the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (and a co-author on the Pinsky paper). He notes that for fish like summer flounder, each state gets a quota — a catch limit — based on where fish used to be, decades ago. "Some of the Southern states are having trouble catching their quota," Seagraves says, "and states to the north have more availability of fish." The fish, he says, are already moving north.
Seagraves says natural variation in coastal ocean temperatures already gives headaches to managers of fisheries. He says climate change will make their job even harder.
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