SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Warming seas will likely send West Coast fish species northward by about 20 miles a decade, and some species probably will disappear from southern ranges off California and Oregon, a new study says.
The study, in the January issue of Progress in Oceanography, projects how 28 West Coast species ranging from sharks to salmon will react as greenhouse gases warm the surface of the Pacific Ocean.
Warm-water species such as thresher sharks and chub mackerel will become more prominent off British Columbia and in the Gulf of Alaska, the study predicted. Food webs and behavior patterns will shift there as southern species move in, according to the study by four marine experts at West Coast fishing research centers and universities.
For the West Coast fishing industry, “the fish they depend on are going to move up north, and that means more travel time and more fuel will be needed to follow them. Or else they may need to switch to different target species,” Richard Brodeur, a study co-author and senior scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in a statement.
“It may not happen right away, but we are likely to see that kind of trend,” Brodeur said.
This year already saw Pacific Coast water temperatures rise 5- to 6 degrees above average, leading to sightings of tropical fish off California and giant sunfish off Alaska.