Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Human Impacts And Environmental Factors Are Changing The Northwest Atlantic Ecosystem

Date:
September 14, 2009
Source:
NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center
Summary:
Fish in US waters from Cape Hatteras to the Canadian border have moved away from their traditional, long-time habitats over the past four decades because of fundamental changes in the regional ecosystem, according to a new report. The report also points out the need to manage the waters off the northeastern coast of the United States as a whole rather than as a series of separate and unrelated components.

Everyone helps sort the catch during a cooperative monkfish cruise earlier this year aboard the F/V Endurance.

Fish in U.S. waters from Cape Hatteras to the Canadian border have moved away from their traditional, long-time habitats over the past four decades because of fundamental changes in the regional ecosystem, according to a new report by NOAA researchers.

Related Articles


The 2009 Ecosystem Status Report also points out the need to manage the waters off the northeastern coast of the United States as a whole rather than as a series of separate and unrelated components.

Known as the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem (NES LME), the ecosystem spans approximately 100,000 square miles and supports some of the highest revenue-generating fisheries in the nation. During the past 40 years, the ecosystem has experienced extensive fishing by domestic and foreign fleets, changes in ocean water temperatures due to climate change, and pressures from increasing human populations along the coast.

Michael Fogarty, who heads the Ecosystem Assessment Program at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) of NOAA's Fisheries Service in Woods Hole, Mass., says his team's report highlights the need to understand natural and human-related changes in this region and to develop effective management and mitigation strategies.

"There are many pressures on the ecosystem including fishing, pollution, habitat loss from coastal development, and impacts on marine life from shipping and other uses of the ocean," Fogarty said. "In addition, changing climate conditions are warming ocean waters, changing ocean chemistry and circulation patterns, and altering atmospheric systems. These changes have, in turn, been linked to changes in the distribution and abundance of fish species in the region and their major sources of food."

The report is the first in a planned series of ecosystem status reports by Fogarty and his colleagues in the NEFSC's Ecosystem Assessment Program to document changes in the NES LME, one of 64 regions in the world's ocean designated as a large marine ecosystem. LMEs are large coastal ocean waters adjacent to continents and characterized by distinct bathymetry, hydrology, productivity and inter-related marine populations. LMEs produce 80 percent of the world's annual fishery yields, and most of the impacts of human activities in the ocean occur within their waters.

Some of the highlights of the program's first report:

  • Warming of coastal and shelf waters has led to northward shifts in distribution of some fish species and changes to a warmer-water fish community.
  • The community structure of zooplankton, a major food source for whales and many other marine species including fish, has changed, due in part to climate and physical processes acting over the North Atlantic Basin, indicating the importance of winds and atmospheric circulation patterns to the function and structure of this ecosystem.
  • Species-selective harvesting patterns have also contributed to shifts in the composition of the ecosystem, which is now dominated by small pelagic fishes such as herring and mackerel, shellfish species, and elasmobranchs (skates and small sharks) of relatively low economic value.
  • The trajectory of regional human population size suggests that human-induced pressure on the ecosystem will continue to increase.
  • The Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf is classified as experiencing ecosystem overfishing, although marked improvement has occurred in the condition of a number of harvested species. Exploitation rates, or the rate at which fish are removed from the ocean, have been significantly reduced in many fish stocks during the last decade, indicating that management measures put in place to reduce overfishing are beginning to show dividends.

Fogarty says sustained long-term monitoring by many agencies and institutions in the Northeast region has enabled scientists and others to trace changes in the ecosystem.

"In the future, we need to continue to monitor the oceanographic, ecological, and human indicators analyzed in this report to detect any additional changes in the system. These indicators also provide important inputs to models that can be used to help guide management decisions and to forecast future changes."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center. "Human Impacts And Environmental Factors Are Changing The Northwest Atlantic Ecosystem." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090831213212.htm>.
NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center. (2009, September 14). Human Impacts And Environmental Factors Are Changing The Northwest Atlantic Ecosystem. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090831213212.htm
NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center. "Human Impacts And Environmental Factors Are Changing The Northwest Atlantic Ecosystem." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090831213212.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Late Winter Storm Wreaks Havoc Across Eastern US

Late Winter Storm Wreaks Havoc Across Eastern US

AP (Mar. 5, 2015) — A strong cold front moving across the eastern U.S. has dumped deep snow in some regions, creating hazardous conditions from Kentucky to New England. (March 5) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Keurig Co-Founder Says Company Has A Waste Problem

Keurig Co-Founder Says Company Has A Waste Problem

Newsy (Mar. 5, 2015) — Keurig co-founder John Sylvan told The Atlantic he doesn&apos;t even own a Keurig because they&apos;re too expensive and produce too much waste. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) — Once nearly extinct, grey whales now migrate in their thousands to Mexico&apos;s Vizcaino reserve in Baja California, in search of warmer waters to mate and give birth. Tourists flock to the reserve to see the whales, measuring up to 49 feet long. (March 4) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Injured Miners Treated After Blast

Raw: Injured Miners Treated After Blast

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) — An explosion ripped through a coal mine before dawn Wednesday in war-torn eastern Ukraine, killing at least one miner, officials said. Graphic video of injured miners being treated in a Donetsk hospital. (March 4) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins