Gulf of Maine waters warming more rapidly than most of ocean, study finds
Gulf of Maine Research Institute
Warming waters in the Gulf of Maine have reduced Atlantic cod populations in that region and distorted estimates of how many fish were available to catch, a new study finds.
Cod stocks have decreased even though fishing quotas should have maintained a sustainable cod fishery. But those quotas relied on historical data without considering higher water temperatures, leading to incorrect assumptions of how big cod numbers could be and how fast these fish populations could rebuild.
The new finding sends a message that past sustainability levels for the cod fishery won’t necessarily work in managing future cod populations, says Ray Hilborn, a fisheries ecologist at the University of Washington in Seattle who was not involved in the study.
Based on ocean area, the Gulf of Maine — a productive fishing area in New England — heated faster than 99.9 percent of the global ocean over