|Maine scientist testifies before House committee about climate change's impact on fisheries|
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree cites current lobster prices and says more funding needed to support research in Gulf of Maine
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree today applauded research into climate change in the Gulf of Maine as Maine scientist Andrew Pershing testified before a House committee on how ocean temperature changes have already impacted fisheries.
"Climate change presents a major threat to fisheries supporting thousands of jobs in our coastal communities. We need to look no further than the current drop in the lobster market to see how global warming can affect marine life and our economy—in this case the warm spring led lobsters to shed much earlier than usual," Pingree said. "We need to increase funding for the kind of research and monitoring happening in Maine so we can better prepare for thefuture. I'm proud that Maine is a leader in this field, as shown by the great work being done by institutions like the University of Maine and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, among others."
Pershing, an associate professor at the UMaine School of Marine Sciences and a research scientist at GMRI, testified today before the House Natural Resource's Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs. His testimony discussed how even small changes in ocean temperature have recently triggered dramatic shifts in the abundance and location of key fish populations such as cod.
Recent surveys have shown cod populations to be much lower than expected, leading to a proposed cut of over 80 percent in catch limitsthis year. At the request of Pingree and others, the cut was reduced to 22 percent until a new assessment could be conducted. Unless the new survey finds differently, though, a larger cut could take place in 2013, with devastating impacts on local ground-fishermen possible. Some have suggested that the ongoing difficulties in rebuilding the Gulf of Maine cod stock may be in part related to a changing climate.
Last week, Pingree wrote a letter signed by much of the New England Congressional Delegation to the National Marine Fisheries Service, asking the agency to help fishermen prepare for the likely cuts by allowingthem to carry over part of their unused quota from this year to next. This would give fishermen more flexibility without putting additional stress on cod stocks.