Archive for the View from the Ocean Category

Jan 17 2020

Fish populations around the world are improving

Fish populations around the world are improving

January 16, 2020 — The following was released by Sustainable Fisheries UW:

Let’s enjoy some unequivocal, inarguable good news: a paper published today in PNAS, Hilborn et al. 2020, shows that on average, scientifically-assessed fish populations around the world are healthy or improving. And, for fish populations that are not doing well, there is a clear roadmap to sustainability. With Australia on fire and scares of World War III, the start of 2020 and the new decade has been awful; hopefully Hilborn et al. 2020 can kickstart a decade of ocean optimism.

Hilborn et al. 2020 counters the perception that fish populations around the world are declining and the only solution is closing vast swaths of ocean to fishing. Instead, Hilborn et al. 2020 argues that increasing scientific, management, and enforcement capacity will lead to more abundant and sustainable oceans. The major takeaway of the paper is that fishery management works—when fisheries are managed, they are sustained. The key is following the science-to-management blueprint. Scientific data collection and fishery assessment comes first, then fishing regulation and enforcement of fishing policies. With the blueprint in place, most fisheries around the world are sustainable or improving.

The paper uses updates to the RAM Legacy Stock Assessment Database, a decades-long project to assemble data on fish populations that are scientifically assessed. As of 2019, the database contains data on 882 marine fish populations, representing about half of reported wild-caught seafood. In 2009, the database contained data on only 166, representing a much smaller proportion of global seafood. Researchers have spent the last 10 years adding to the database, and with today’s publication, update the global status of fish stocks. They found that, on average, fish populations are above target levels. Not every stock is doing well, but on average, things are much better than they were 2 decades ago. How nice: an environmental story where things are better now than they were in the past!

The paper describes the global status of fish stocks, but it also tells the story of fishery sustainability from the past 50 years.

Read the full story at Sustainable Fisheries UW


Original post: Copyright © 2020 Stove Boat LLC, All rights reserved.
Saving Seafood | 202-595-1212 | savingseafood.org

Jan 15 2020

Earth’s oceans are hotter than ever — and getting warmer faster

The world’s oceans hit their warmest level in recorded history in 2019, according to a study published Monday that provides more evidence that Earth is warming at an accelerated pace.

The analysis, which also found that ocean temperatures in the last decade have been the warmest on record, shows the impact of human-caused warming on the planet’s oceans and suggests that sea-level rise, ocean acidification and extreme weather events could worsen as the oceans continue to absorb so much heat.

“The pace of warming has increased about 500 percent since the late 1980s,” said one of the study’s authors, John Abraham, a professor of thermal sciences at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. “The findings, to be honest, were not unexpected. Warming is continuing, it has accelerated, and it is unabated. Unless we do something significant and quickly, it’s really dire news.”

Abraham and his colleagues found that the rate of ocean warming accelerated from 1987 to 2019 to nearly 4½ times the rate of warming from 1955 to 1986.

According to the study, published Monday in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, average ocean temperatures in 2019 were 0.075 degrees Celsius (0.135 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1981-2019 average. While that may seem minuscule, it represents an enormous amount of heat spread out across the world’s oceans, according to the study’s lead author, Lijing Cheng, an associate professor at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics in Beijing.

“The amount of heat we have put in the world’s oceans in the past 25 years equals to 3.6 billion Hiroshima atom bomb explosions,” Cheng said in a statement.

The study, conducted by an international team of 14 scientists, found that oceans have absorbed more than 90 percent of the heat trapped on Earth from greenhouse gas emissions since 1970.

“Oceans are the biggest reservoir of heat and therefore the best indicator of climate change,” Abraham said. “If you want to know how fast the Earth is warming, look at the oceans.”

Scientists are worried by the trend because warmer oceans can increase severe weather and intensify storms.

“It’s like putting weather on steroids,” Johnson said. “We did a study a few years ago that showed Hurricane Harvey in Texas passed over a very warm body of water, and that greatly increased the amount of rainfall.”

Harvey unleashed more than 60 inches of rain over southeastern Texas in 2017, and scientists have said climate change will make storms rainier overall.

Warmer oceans also expand and melt ice, speeding the rise in sea levels and increasing the risk to coastal communities and low-lying infrastructure, said Nick Bond, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, who wasn’t involved with the new study. According to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, average global sea levels could rise by 0.95 feet to 3.61 feet by the end of the century.

“From Miami Beach to Bangladesh — as sea levels continue to creep up, it’s just going to become less viable to live in these places,” Bond said.

He added that there are other significant societal implications, such as the effect that warming oceans may have on the chemistry and biology of the world’s oceans.

When carbon dioxide is absorbed and mixes with ocean water, chemical reactions make the water more acidic. Some sea creatures and ecosystems, such as corals, struggle with this type of acidification, but Bond said scientists don’t yet know the extent of the potential fallout.

“There are going to be winners and losers, but we don’t know how that will all play out,” he said. “It’s a very complicated system, and we don’t fully understand which species will have to shift their range, which ones may go extinct or which ones may prosper.”

Katie Matthews, chief scientist at Oceana, an ocean conservation organization in Washington, D.C., said ocean warming could have enormous impacts on fisheries around the world, particularly in the tropics.

“The tropics are the areas that have the largest number of people reliant on fish for nutrition, food security and livelihood,” she said. “It’s really unfortunate that the most vulnerable and at-risk populations are going to be the ones most affected.”

The study, which incorporated measurements from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, used data on ocean temperatures dating to the 1950s. The measurements included recordings of temperatures extending from the sea surface to depths of more than 6,500 feet.

Average ocean temperatures over the years have followed the warming trend, but Abraham said some of the most pronounced warming has taken place in the South Atlantic Ocean, in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Japan, and in the waters south of Australia.

Abraham said he hopes the findings will spark climate action around the world.

“This isn’t a political issue,” he said. “This is a science issue, and our measurements are telling us that this is a problem and we need to take action.”


Nov 22 2019

California agrees with crabbers to postpone Dungeness season in bid to safeguard whales and fishing fleet

Owner Peter Bjeldanes, left, and deckhand Ethan Snyderman load crab pots onto the fishing boat the “Talisman” at Spud Point Marina in Bodega Bay on Monday, Nov. 18, 2019. (BETH SCHLANKER/ PD)

 

A bid led by Bodega Bay’s commercial fishing fleet succeeded Wednesday in persuading state wildlife officials to postpone the opening of Dungeness crab season to safeguard protected whales species still lingering in the fishing grounds.

In a move at the behest of the crab industry, Chuck Bonham, the state fish and wildlife director, agreed to push back the season opener to Dec. 15. Crab fishing was slated to open Friday along the coast from Sonoma to San Mateo counties.

The decision is subject to two days of public comment ending Friday afternoon.

It’s the second delay in the season because of the heavy presence of threatened and endangered whales in coastal waters off the greater Bay Area, where the commercial Dungeness crab season traditionally opens Nov. 15.

Fresh crab from Washington state should be available at local markets for Thanksgiving, local fishermen said.

Bonham’s move came after commercial crabbers in San Francisco and Half Moon Bay voted to join those in Bodega Bay, who had resolved a day earlier to stand down from the Friday opener to avoid entangling whales. Up to 86  humpbacks were observed in the region during an aerial survey Monday.

The state’s move ensures that fishing boats from out of the area don’t have the fishing grounds to themselves come Friday and risk curtailing the season in any encounter with a whale.

Under the terms of a legal settlement reached in March between the state and an environmental group, even a single marine mammal entanglement could prompt restrictions in the commercial crab fishery, including closure.

“I think all of the guys are on the same page,” Bodega Bay Fishermens’ Association President Lorne Edwards said Wednesday after the other two ports decided to stand with Bodega Bay and forgo the opener. “We don’t want to lose the season.”

Crescent City fisherman Tom Wright, one of about a half-dozen skippers who motored south to crab because northern grounds remained closed, said another crabber who continued past Bodega Bay to San Francisco described whales so dense “it was like traveling through Sea World.”

“This is basically industry suicide if we go out and catch a whale,” Wright said.

The Center for Biological Diversity, in its 2017 lawsuit against the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, accused the agency of insufficient regulation of the commercial crabbing fleet, saying entanglement in fishing gear imperiled listed populations of humpback and blue whales, as well as sea turtles. That year, a record 71 entanglements were reported.

The settlement reached this year with the state, signed also by fishing representatives, included substantial concessions, including shortened seasons and sharp consequences in the event of an entanglement.

It also includes a slate of in-season check-ins that require Bonham to consult with a diverse working group of fishermen, scientists, regulators and environmentalists trying to limit entanglements of marine mammals.

Prior to Wednesday’s decision, Bonham’s first act under the new protocol was to delay the Nov. 15 opener to Friday, hoping to balance the continued presence of whales that eventually will migrate to wintering grounds off the coast of Mexico while allowing commercial crabbers time to land fresh crab for Thanksgiving.

Then the agency sent up a plane to take a look at the number of whales in the area, including Point Reyes, the Gulf of the Farallones and Half Moon Bay. Their findings Monday prompted alarm in the crabbing community.

Entangled whales can drag fishing gear for hundreds of miles and often die from their injuries.

Fisherman Dick Ogg, vice president of the Bodega Bay Fishermens’ Association and a member of the crab gear working group, was on the flyover. He said he immediately saw potential for another spike in harmful encounters with whales.

“This was the potential,” Ogg said, “and, had we not gone to (the Department of Fish and Wildlife), it’s very likely we would have ended up in a similar situation.”


Original post: https://www.pressdemocrat.com/

Nov 21 2019

Rebound in Groundfish Leads to New Flexibility for Fishermen, Protection for Deep-Sea Corals

Rosy rockfish among California hydrocoral. Photo: NOAA

 

Sweeping changes in West Coast groundfish fisheries adopted this week will reopen access for fishermen to productive fishing grounds where fish populations have rebounded. These changes will also protect sensitive deep-water habitat and deep-sea corals from bottom fishing.

The changes come in the form of an amendment to the Fishery Management Plan for groundfish off the West Coast. The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) recommended the amendment to NOAA Fisheries, which finalized it this week. The new provisions take effect January 1, 2020, and are widely supported by fishermen and other stakeholders.

The changes affect what is known as Essential Fish Habitat, or EFH, the habitat necessary to support sustainable fisheries. By law, the Council must minimize effects on EFH, and in 2005 did so for groundfish habitat. It established area closures that limited bottom trawling and other types of gear that contact the sea floor.

A review of the latest science and fishing results led the Council to increase protections for EFH in some places. It also reopened some important fishing areas that had been closed.

Years of Talks Led to Collaborative Solution

The new protections put about 13,000 square miles of deep-sea reefs, corals, and sponges off-limits to bottom trawling that can impact sea-floor habitat. The area is larger than the state of Massachusetts, and includes the Southern California Bight between San Diego and Santa Barbara. At the same time, the new action reopens nearly 3,000 square miles that had been closed to bottom trawling for groundfish.

Fishermen worked with conservation groups including the Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and Natural Resources Defense Council. They refined the details during years of talks in fishing communities up and down the West Coast. “We worked together to come up with a solution, instead of having it done for us,” said Tom Libby, an Astoria, Oregon, seafood processor who helped develop the revisions known as Amendment 28.

Fishermen shared decades of detailed information in the form of logbooks, bathymetric plotters, and old paper charts, said Shems Jud of Environmental Defense Fund. That allowed the coalition to refine new closures to maximize protection for sensitive habitats, while crafting reopened areas to provide better fishing opportunity.

“Without this process and the trust that was built, the end result would likely have been much clunkier closures and openings and significantly less consensus on the final outcome,” Jud said. “This was one of the most gratifying processes I’ve been involved in during my time at the Council. It’s a true win-win outcome that everyone can be incredibly proud of.”

“It’s the first time we really sat down and talked to each other,” said Nick Edwards, a Coos Bay, Oregon, fisherman who joined the talks. “It’s one of those Cinderella stories that never happens—but this one did.”

West Coast groundfish are a key player in the blue economy, contributing $569 million in personal income benefits to West Coast communities. Recreational anglers from Washington to Southern California took nearly 1 million boat trips in pursuit of groundfish from 2012 to 2016, according to the Council.

Expanding Flexibility for the West Coast Trawl Fleet

The amendment recognizes the rebuilding of many West Coast groundfish species that NOAA Fisheries declared overfished around 2000. Many vessels quit the fishery and those that remained switched in 2011 to catch shares management. Through this system, fishermen each get a specific annual quota of fish to catch instead of racing to catch as many fish as possible.

Fishermen can also buy and trade shares of their quota, and all catches are recorded to ensure fishermen are accountable for what they bring in and discard at sea. Catch shares management has helped promote responsible fishing and reduce bycatch, preserving the marine ecosystem, and supplying consumers with a wild and natural food source. Almost all the overfished stocks are now rebuilt, many of them decades ahead of expectations.

The improvements allow NOAA Fisheries to reopen about 2,000 square miles of a large Rockfish Conservation Area off California and Oregon. The area had been off-limits to groundfish bottom trawling since 2002. That will give fishermen more flexibility in how and where they fish, while ensuring that catches remain sustainable.

“There is something here for everyone, and it is possible only because many fishermen sacrificed and participated in the planning to bring the groundfish fishery back,” said Ryan Wulff, Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries in NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region. “This will provide more flexibility for a fishing fleet that has demonstrated its responsibility, and at the same time protect deep-water habitats that we are only beginning to learn about.”

Preserving Deep Sea Ecosystems

The measures also close U.S. waters deeper than 3,500 meters (2.2 miles) to fishing with gear that contacts the bottom. This affects another roughly 123,000 square miles, an area larger than the state of Oregon.

Only in the last 20 years have scientists recognized and documented deep-sea coral ecosystems covering large areas of the sea floor off the West Coast. These ecosystems, which will be protected under the amendment, are home to unusual species—some may hold biomedical value to treat disease, for instance.

The closure to bottom-contact gear will also protect important habitat features. These include submarine canyons, seamounts, and methane seeps that support a variety of unusual marine species.

The deep-water closures are not anticipated to affect fishing because little fishing occurs in the protected areas now. The fishing that does occur there does not contact the bottom. The protections are precautionary, and are authorized under the Magnuson-Stevens Act to safeguard deep sea coral ecosystems.


Original post: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/

Oct 16 2019

New Data Makes Case for Anchovy Abundance as Oceana Lawsuit Continues

New, preliminary data from the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) have provided further evidence that California’s anchovy population is now at record high levels. The data come amid a renewed lawsuit by the environmental group Oceana that seeks to reduce the already very limited amount of anchovy caught commercially in California.

The preliminary data from the Southwest Fisheries Science Center Larval Lab weekly report on September 16 show that the 2019 spring CalCOFI survey documented the highest abundance of larval anchovy off the coast of California ever recorded — nearly double the record amount from the mid-1960s. It did not even include the tens of thousands of tons of anchovy that fishermen have reported in nearshore waters since 2015. This is the latest piece of evidence that the anchovy population is far more resilient than Oceana alleges, according to the California Wetfish Producers Association.

Scientists have found that anchovy undergo large dynamic population swings naturally, even without fishing, and the precautionary fishing limits allowed have not harmed the ecosystem. But despite the latest evidence of anchovy abundance, Oceana is suing to further limit California’s small anchovy fishery.

Members of the Wetfish Producers Association have long held that massive schools of anchovies, particularly in California’s inshore areas, have not been properly counted. CWPA has worked to confirm the observations of its members in cooperative surveys with the Southwest Fisheries Science Center and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. These nearshore surveys add evidence to the preliminary CalCOFI data: there are tens of thousands of tons of anchovies in inshore California waters, in addition to record abundance offshore. This explosion occurred in the presence of this small, historical fishery.

“There is an increasingly large body of evidence showing that anchovies are far more abundant than the allegations in Oceana’s lawsuit recognize,” Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of CWPA, said in a press release. “It’s why efforts to further restrict anchovy fishing are both unnecessary and harmful to West Coast fishing communities.”

However, Oceana still seeks stricter limits on the allowable catch of the central subpopulation of northern anchovy, which is currently set at 23,573 metric tons annually as a result of prior court rulings. The fishery typically catches less than 10,000 metric tons annually of this legally allowed amount.

” … the new rule would allow 23,573 metric tons of catch regardless of whether the population rapidly declines to very small levels, was at its historic average size, or was in a boom period. This unchanging catch limit ignores the agency’s legal duties to apply the best available science to anchovy management, and its non-discretionary
duty to adjust the catch limits based on best available science to prevent overfishing in the down years,” Oceana said in its most recent lawsuit.

The group said the Council should follow an annual management strategy that “sets annual catch limits based on the current estimates of abundance from acoustic trawl surveys that would prevent overfishing and ensure sufficient food for ocean wildlife in the future,” Oceana says on its website.

However, the additional studies show an overall picture of anchovy abundance that is higher than that shown by the acoustic trawl survey alone. Oceana representatives have argued in the past that the acoustic trawl survey is the most technologically advanced method — and therefore, the best science available — for assessing anchovy abundance. Industry members countered that identifying the amount of anchovies in nearshore areas using scientifically proven methods adds to the cumulative best available science; therefore, fishery managers should make their decisions based on information from the entire suite of available data.

In August, CWPA filed to intervene in Oceana’s latest lawsuit in order to participate in the proceedings and represent the interests of its members and fishing communities before the court. CWPA believes that the additional restrictions on the anchovy harvest being sought by the lawsuit are unnecessary, and would result in significant job loss and economic hardship for California’s wetfish fishermen and processors, and by extension, California communities and the state’s fishing economy.

“We believe that the evidence will show that anchovy is being managed precautionarily and with the conservation of the species in mind,” Pleschner-Steele said. “Best management practices and the best available science do not support the claims of overfishing made in the lawsuit.”


Original post: https://www.seafoodnews.com Posted by permission. Please subscribe to Seafood News.

Oct 16 2019

Sides battle over Monterey Bay’s anchovy population

Neil Guglielmo, right, is 78 and has been fishing anchovies out of Monterey since 1956 and said the population is plentiful. (Monterey Herald file photo)

MONTEREY — A fishing industry group says it has new findings supporting its contention that there is a healthy population of anchovies, which is counter to a nonprofit’s lawsuit challenging how the number of anchovies are determined. Meanwhile, Monterey fishermen say there are tons of the little guys in the local fishery.

Gino Pennisi and Neil Guglielmo have been fishing out of Monterey for years, in Guglielmo’s case, since 1956. Both say anchovies are plentiful.

“They were so thick for a while you could walk up them,” Pennisi said, adding that right now they have moved north to Moss Landing and San Francisco. “They have tails; they move.”

But the nonprofit group Oceana argues the number of anchovies federal agencies state are not accurate and as a result can misstate the population and allow limits greater than the population would support.

Anchovies are critical to marine life in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Pelicans, sea lions and humpback whales all depend on the Northern Anchovy as a food source.

Anchovy numbers off the coast of California are the subject of debate between fishermen and an environmental nonprofit. (Provided/NOAA Marine Fisheries)

Anchovy numbers off the coast of California are the subject of debate between fishermen and an environmental nonprofit. (Provided/NOAA Marine Fisheries)

The California Wetfish Producers Association, a fishing industry trade group, on Thursday released data showing California anchovies are at record levels. The data was compiled by the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations, a partnership of the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, NOAA Fisheries Service and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The Wetfish Producers issued a statement essentially saying the data from Fisheries Investigations flies in the face of what Oceana is arguing in its lawsuit. Oceana’s suit was filed by the nonprofit Earthjustice on behalf of Oceana in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District.

It lists several allegations but the primary argument is that Marine Fisheries has failed to conduct a full assessment of anchovies since 1995. The regulator has released annual surveys but Oceana argues those are insufficient to accurately determine the population.

“The annual surveys are insufficient for proper long-term management of the fishery to prevent overfishing and to ensure sufficient food for dependent wildlife,” said Ashley Blacow-Draeger, Oceana’s Pacific policy and communications manager based out of Monterey.

Not so, said Joshua Lindsay, fishery policy analyst for the National Marine Fisheries Service. The surveys have become far more accurate in the past few years and the data they produce are considered sound, hard science. And science is showing a healthy population.

“We feel comfortable with the survey data,” Lindsay said. “We have seen the population substantially increase every year.”

There has been concern about problems with nesting brown pelicans along the Channel Islands where much of their annual nesting occurs. Oceana says it’s from dwindling anchovy populations. Marine Fisheries said it’s because a warm-water phenomenon nicknamed “the blob,” a warm patch of water in the northern Pacific Ocean associated with algal blooms and marine die-offs. It also pushed anchovies away from the historic pelican nesting grounds.

Back in Monterey Bay, Guglielmo, one of the Monterey fishermen, said he sees hundreds of pelicans when he’s out on his boat.

The current limit of anchovies is 23,573 metric tons, based on an earlier court ruling, said Diane Pleschner-Steele, the executive director of the Wetfish Producers Association. The fishery typically catches less than 10,000 metric tons.

“There is an increasingly large body of evidence showing that anchovies are far more abundant than the allegations in Oceana’s lawsuit recognize,”  Pleschner-Steele said. “It’s why efforts to further restrict anchovy fishing are both unnecessary and harmful to West Coast fishing communities.”

Still, the same federal district court in 2018 issued a ruling on a previous Oceana lawsuit requiring the U.S. Fisheries Service to apply the best available science to prevent overfishing of anchovies.

The Fisheries Service says it is using the best available science and is currently collecting data that will be part of a full population assessment in the next couple of years.


Originally published: https://www.montereyherald.com/

Sep 25 2019

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases its Special Report on the Ocean and the Cryosphere in a Changing Climate

The new IPCC Special Report, released today,  is the first IPCC Report to focus on the role of the ocean in the global climate and the effects of climate change on the ocean. Ocean acidification is extensively covered throughout the report. A few OA-relevant excerpts from the Summary for Policymakers are cited below:

OBSERVED CHANGES AND IMPACTS

Observed Physical Changes

A2.5 The ocean has taken up between 20–30% (very likely) of total anthropogenic CO2 emissions since the 1980s causing further ocean acidification. Open ocean surface pH has declined by a very likely range of 0.017–0.027 pH units per decade since the late 1980s, with the decline in surface ocean pH very likely to have already emerged from background natural variability for more than 95% of the ocean surface area. {3.2.1; 5.2.2; Box 5.1; Figures SPM.1, SPM.2}

Observed Impacts on Ecosystems

A5.3 Eastern Boundary Upwelling Systems (EBUS) are amongst the most productive ocean ecosystems. Increasing ocean acidification and oxygen loss are negatively impacting two of the four major upwelling systems: the California Current and Humboldt Current (high confidence). Ocean acidification and decrease in oxygen level in the California Current upwelling system have altered ecosystem structure, with direct negative impacts on biomass production and species composition (medium confidence). {Box 5.3, Figure SPM.2}

A6.4 Warm-water coral reefs and rocky shores dominated by immobile, calcifying (e.g., shell and skeleton producing) organisms such as corals, barnacles and mussels, are currently impacted by extreme temperatures and ocean acidification (high confidence). Marine heatwaves have already resulted in large-scale coral bleaching events at increasing frequency (very high confidence) causing worldwide reef degradation since 1997, and recovery is slow (more than 15 years) if it occurs (high confidence). Prolonged periods of high environmental temperature and dehydration of the organisms pose high risk to rocky shore ecosystems (high confidence). {SR1.5; 5.3.4, 5.3.5, 6.4.2.1, Figure SPM.2}

PROJECTED CHANGES AND RISKS

Projected Physical Changes

B2.3 Continued carbon uptake by the ocean by 2100 is virtually certain to exacerbate ocean acidification. Open ocean surface pH is projected to decrease by around 0.3 pH units by 2081–2100, relative to 2006– 2015, under RCP8.5 (virtually certain). For RCP8.5, there are elevated risks for keystone aragonite shell-forming species due to crossing an aragonite stability threshold year-round in the Polar and sub-Polar Oceans by 2081–2100 (very likely). For RCP2.6, these conditions will be avoided this century (very likely), but some eastern boundary upwelling systems are projected to remain vulnerable (high confidence). {3.2.3, 5.2.2, Box 5.1, Box 5.3, Figure SPM.1}

B2.4 Climate conditions, unprecedented since the preindustrial period, are developing in the ocean, elevating risks for open ocean ecosystems. Surface acidification and warming have already emerged in the historical period (very likely). Oxygen loss between 100 and 600 m depth is projected to emerge over 59–80% of the ocean area by 2031– 2050 under RCP8.5 (very likely). The projected time of emergence for five primary drivers of marine ecosystem change (surface warming and acidification, oxygen loss, nitrate content and net primary production change) are all prior to 2100 for over 60% of the ocean area under RCP8.5 and over 30% under RCP2.6 (very likely). {Annex I: Glossary, Box 5.1, Box 5.1 Figure 1}

Projected Risks for Ecosystems

B5.3 Warming, ocean acidification, reduced seasonal sea ice extent and continued loss of multi-year sea ice are projected to impact polar marine ecosystems through direct and indirect effects on habitats, populations and their viability (medium confidence). The geographical range of Arctic marine species, including marine mammals, birds and fish is projected to contract, while the range of some sub-Arctic fish communities is projected to expand, further increasing pressure on high-Arctic species (medium confidence). In the Southern Ocean, the habitat of Antarctic krill, a key prey species for penguins, seals and whales, is projected to contract southwards under both RCP2.6 and RCP8.5 (medium confidence). {3.2.2, 3.2.3, 5.2.3}

B5.4 Ocean warming, oxygen loss, acidification and a decrease in flux of organic carbon from the surface to the deep ocean are projected to harm habitat-forming cold-water corals, which support high biodiversity, partly through decreased calcification, increased dissolution of skeletons, and bioerosion (medium confidence). Vulnerability and risks are highest where and when temperature and oxygen conditions both reach values outside species’ tolerance ranges (medium confidence). {Box 5.2, Figure SPM.3}

B6.1 All coastal ecosystems assessed are projected to face increasing risk level, from moderate to high risk under RCP2.6 to high to very high risk under RCP8.5 by 2100. Intertidal rocky shore ecosystems are projected to be at very high risk by 2100 under RCP8.5 (medium confidence) due to exposure to warming, especially during marine heatwaves, as well as to acidification, sea level rise, loss of calcifying species and biodiversity (high confidence). Ocean acidification challenges these ecosystems and further limits their habitat suitability (medium confidence) by inhibiting recovery through reduced calcification and enhanced bioerosion. The decline of kelp forests is projected to continue in temperate regions due to warming, particularly under the projected intensification of marine heatwaves, with high risk of local extinctions under RCP8.5 (medium confidence). {5.3, 5.3.5, 5.3.6, 5.3.7, 6.4.2, Figure SPM.3}

The full Report, as well as the Summary for Policymakers are available here.


Originally published: https://news-oceanacidification-icc.org/

Sep 5 2019

New Marine Heatwave Emerges off West Coast, Resembles “the Blob”

Researchers are monitoring a new marine heatwave off the West Coast for effects on the marine ecosystem.

Sea surface temperature anomaly maps show temperatures above normal in orange and red.

 

About five years ago “the Blob” of warm ocean water disrupted the West Coast marine ecosystem and depressed salmon returns. Now, a new expanse of unusually warm water has quickly grown in much the same way, in the same area, to almost the same size.

The warm expanse building off the West Coast stretches roughly from Alaska south to California. It ranks as the second largest marine heatwave in terms of area in the northern Pacific Ocean in the last 40 years, after “the Blob.”

“It’s on a trajectory to be as strong as the prior event,” said Andrew Leising, a research scientist at NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California. He developed a system for tracking and measuring heatwaves in the Pacific Ocean using satellite data. “Already, on its own, it is one of the most significant events that we’ve seen.”

Cold water welling up from ocean depths along the coast has so far held the warm expanse offshore, he said. However, the upwelling, driven by coastal winds, usually wanes in the fall. The heatwave could then move onshore and affect coastal temperatures, he said. This already appears to have happened along the coast of Washington.

The new marine heatwave off the West Coast stands out in this map of sea surface temperature anomalies, with darker red denoting temperatures farther above average. The highest temperatures shown are more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit above average. Image from NOAA Coral Reef Watch, which corrects effectively for cloud cover.

NOAA Fisheries is focusing additional monitoring on the new heatwave, designated the Northeast Pacific Marine Heatwave of 2019. NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest and Northwest Fisheries Science Centers will provide fisheries managers and others with information on how the unusually warm conditions could affect the marine ecosystem and fish stocks.

“We learned with ‘the Blob’ and similar events worldwide that what used to be unexpected is becoming more common,” said Cisco Werner, NOAA Fisheries Director of Scientific Programs and Chief Science Advisor. “We will continue to inform the public about how the heatwave is evolving, and what we might anticipate based on experience.”

The new heatwave resembles the early stages of “the Blob.” This previous marine heat wave peaked through 2014 and 2015 with temperatures close to seven degrees Fahrenheit above average.

Blob Could Dissipate Quickly

Like “the Blob,” the new heatwave emerged over the past few months. A ridge of high pressure dampened the winds that otherwise mix and cool the ocean’s surface. The heatwave remains relatively new and is primarily affecting the upper layers of the ocean, it could break up rapidly.

“It looks bad, but it could also go away pretty quickly if the unusually persistent weather patterns that caused it change,” said Nate Mantua, a research scientist at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center.

Current forecasts show the heat wave moderating but continuing for months.

A key question is whether the new heatwave will last long enough to affect the marine ecosystem. Biologists say that its large size means it probably already has. For example, warmer conditions during “the Blob” left lesser-quality food available to young salmon entering the ocean. It also shifted predator distributions in ways that contributed to low returns of salmon.

Shifts in the marine food web during the evolution of the 2014-2015 marine heatwave called, “the Blob,” forced sea lion mothers to forage further from their rookeries in the Channel Islands off Southern California. Hungry pups set out on their own, but many became stranded on area beaches. 

Other impacts linked to the earlier heatwave include:

  • The largest harmful algal bloom recorded on the West Coast, which shut down crabbing and clamming for months.
  • Thousands of young California sea lions stranding on beaches.
  • Multiple declared fishery disasters.

NOAA Fisheries scientists recently convened a special meeting to discuss the emerging heatwave and how to anticipate and track its effects. They are now reviewing impacts documented during the “the Blob” to compare them against the effects of the emerging heatwave.

“Given the magnitude of what we saw last time, we want to know if this evolves on a similar path,” said Chris Harvey, a research scientist at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center.

Monitoring Framework in Place

NOAA Fisheries’ two West Coast laboratories collaborate on the California Current Integrated Ecosystem Assessment. This is a joint effort to track and interpret environmental change off the West Coast. That provides a framework to monitor shifting conditions, Harvey said.

One challenge will be applying lessons learned from the last heat wave to anticipate and mitigate potential impacts of the new one. For example, the warm water of “the Blob” led humpback and other whales to feed closer to shore. Record numbers became entangled in lines from crab traps and other fishing gear.

In response, fishermen, managers, and others have formed working groups in California, Oregon, and Washington. They hope to find ways of reducing the risk of entanglements.

The marine heatwave that has formed off the West Coast of North America is currently close to the warmest area in the Pacific Ocean. Map shows sea surface temperature anomalies, with darker orange representing temperatures farther above average. Image from NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service.

 

Real-time research on environmental changes will give managers the details they need to respond, said Kristen Koch, Director of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center. “This is a time when we all need to know how our marine ecosystem is changing, and what that means for those of us who live along the West Coast.”

The new northeast Pacific heatwave reflects current weather patterns. This includes a band of high pressure stretching north to the Bering Sea and Alaska, which have been unusually warm in recent years, said Nick Bond, a research meteorologist with the Joint Institute for the study of the Atmosphere and Ocean in Seattle, a collaboration between NOAA and the University of Washington.

“There are definitely concerning implications for the ecosystem,” said Bond, who is credited with naming “the Blob.” “It’s all a matter of how long it lasts and how deep it goes.”


Original post: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/new-marine-heatwave-emerges-west-coast-resembles-blob

Sep 5 2019

Marine Heat Wave Similar To ‘The Blob’ Returns To West Coast

The warm water stretches from Alaska to California, covering an area that’s almost as large as “the blob” and still growing.

“It’s on a trajectory to be as strong as the prior event,” said Andrew Leising, a research scientist at NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California. “Already, on its own, it is one of the most significant events that we’ve seen.”

This map of sea surface temperatures illustrates the new marine heatwave off the West Coast as compared with “the blob” of 2014-15. Darker red denotes temperatures farther above average. The highest temperatures shown are more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit above average. NOAA Coral Reef Watch

The marine heat wave in 2014-15 sent water temperatures up to nearly 7 degrees Fahrenheit higher than normal. It caused massive harmful algae blooms that shut down crab and clam fisheries up and down the West Coast. It affected food availability in the ocean, which resulted in many young sea lions left stranded on beaches by parents searching for food. Warmer waters led humpback and other whales to feed closer to shore, which in turn caused record numbers of them to become entangled in lines from crab traps and other fishing gear. They also brought a baffling proliferation of an unfamiliar, pickle-shaped creature known as a pyrosome.

“We learned with ‘the Blob’ and similar events worldwide that what used to be unexpected is becoming more common,” said Cisco Werner, NOAA Fisheries director of scientific programs and chief science adviser. “We will continue to inform the public about how the heatwave is evolving, and what we might anticipate based on experience.”

Current forecasts show the heat wave moderating but continuing for months.

Nick Bond, a research meteorologist with the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean in Seattle, said weather patterns in the region around Alaska and the Bering sea have been unusually warm in recent years. Scientists with NOAA are reviewing impacts documented during the “the blob” to compare them against the effects of the emerging heatwave.

“There are definitely concerning implications for the ecosystem,” said Bond, who is credited with naming “the Blob.” “It’s all a matter of how long it lasts and how deep it goes.”

This story will be updated.


Original post: https://www.opb.org/news/article/marine-heat-wave-blob-returns-west-coast/

Aug 8 2019

FEELING SQUIDDISH | Local market squid fisheries impacted by warm blob in Pacific

California Market Squid regenerative their population every year.

 

By Kimberly Rivers

The squid landing docks at the Port of Hueneme are quiet. In recent years the summer months were busy with dozens of boats coming and going, offloading millions of pounds of California Market Squid into tanks for export to Asia for processing and then returning to be served up for fried calamari or other dishes.

The local squid fishery declined from 2014-16 in response to a warm water mass called “the blob.” The name was coined by Nicholas Bond, Alaska-based research scientist with the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO) at the University of Washington. Blob, as expected, is a reference to the amorphous monster from the 1958 horror classic film.

Typically ocean temperatures 50 miles off the Southern California coast are “very much in step” with the ocean temperatures at the equator, said Clarissa Anderson, executive director of the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS). The system she manages is part of a network of systems monitoring ocean conditions worldwide. “Then they diverge when the blob hit in 2014 and only come back together again for the big 2016 El Niño, then diverge again. This may be related to the perturbation caused by the blob temp anomaly that lasted so long.”

The blob was a “large anomalously warm” area of the Pacific Ocean, “spread over a broad area, resulting in major ecosystem impacts,” said Anderson.

Anderson and Bond monitor different sensor systems in their regions and look for anomalies in the oceans. She said the blob mostly impacted the area for about two years and prevented mixing of water, caused the drought, wildfires,” and decimated the Dungeness crab industry along the Pacific Coast.

When asked whether we are seeing a blob 2.0, causing a decline in the squid fishery in the area, she said people may be “quick to call it that in homage to the past blob,” but she is not certain it’s a new blob, but might be that the blob never really left.

“We don’t have a threshold for when to call it a blob,” said Anderson. “I don’t know if we are having an actual true marine heat wave.”

Warm water prevents the normal upwelling of cool water from deeper water that contains important nutrients and food sources for species that live at shallower depths. “We have seen a lot of upwelling in the spring,” she said, noting that much of the ocean is looking like “business as usual” but with a “warmer background level of water.”

That warmer background water could reveal a trend, part of what is needed to identify a true anomaly, which would indicate something serious occurring. To confirm that, Anderson said data must be “compared to a background baseline,” and an increase in temperature is only significant when it “deviates from a background norm.” Reviewing temperatures each day is not enough; current day temps must be run against past data over time to identify a true change or trend showing temperature increase.  

After reviewing the most recent days’ data, Anderson said that there appears to be “anomalously warm water off the Central Coast.” She emphasized the data set covered “the climatology period 2007 to the present.” It does show a red blob-shaped area about 250 kilometers off the Central Coast that is four degrees higher than the normal range of temperatures.

In 2010, well before the blob arrived, squid season in the Ventura area brought in 126 million pounds of squid valued at $33.7 million. By 2016, total poundage dropped by a third to 34 million pounds valued at $16.8 million.

2018 data shows a continued declining trend totaling 27.6 million pounds valued at $13.6 million. Ventura Harbor and Port Hueneme landings for squid in 2018 were valued at $6.7 million and $6.8 million respectively, less than half of the 2010 value. Data and values are according to records held by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“The good news is that squid are pretty resilient,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of California Wetfish Producers Association. The species does prefer cooler water, but is showing an ability to move and find food. “And squid are very cyclical . . . We can’t afford to lose our squid fisheries . . . and a number of species are going to be hit hard by ocean acidification and climate change.”

In terms of how warm water will impact market squid, “It depends where the food goes,” Pleschner-Steele said. “Squid are pretty voracious predators. When we have typical cooler upwelled water that is more nutrient rich, we have more squid.”

Squid will devour krill in the deeper offshore areas. As they move closer to shore to spawn, they become “cannibalistic” and eat each other. This may contribute to the resiliency as the ocean ecosystem changes.

Pleshchner-Steele also pointed to the normal cyclical nature of squid populations, saying “Ventura got used to having squid in the summer time.” The strong El Niña in the Pacific created an abnormal situation between 2010 and 2013, and a “decadal squid boom for southern California” led to the seemingly major shifts.  “My guess is to see a return to normal pattern.”

She referred to a research project of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, completed in February, that “saw a bump in the para-larvae numbers” of market squid. She said that is a signal that there is likely to be an uptick in squid number in about nine to 10 months. “Ventura will just have to wait until fall.”


Original post: https://www.vcreporter.com/