Vanishing Cod, Climate Change And Our Warming Oceans


A cod that will be auctioned off is held by Codie Small at the Portland Fish Exchange, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, in Portland, Maine. Portland’s Gulf of Maine Research Institute is announcing a major breakthrough in climate and fisheries science. A study published in the journal Science indicates cod, which have collapsed off of New England, are declining because of warming oceans. (AP)

Tune in today at 11am on WSQX for On Point. Warm the planet and you warm the oceans. Warm the oceans, and things change. First of all for sea life. Sometimes so fast it’s hard for humans to keep up. Last week a report in the journal Science looked at the collapse of cod and cod fishing in the Gulf of Maine. It fell so quickly and did not recover, we learn, because the Gulf of Maine was on a huge warming spike. Cod didn’t like it, and they were fished out. There are versions of this story – with different species, different addresses – all over the world. This hou On Point, a fish story out of Maine, and the global ocean impact of climate change.

– Tom Ashbrook



Bill Trotter, reporter for the Bangor Daily News, where he runs the Going Coastal Blog. (@billtrotter)

Andrew Pershing, chief scientific officer for the Gulf of Maine Research Center and a lead author of the study on climate change and the collapse of the Maine cod industry. (@sci_officer)

Ben Halpern, marine biologist at the Marine Science Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Nicholas Bond, research meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Cooperative Institution at the University of Washington.


From Tom’s Reading List

Science: Slow adaptation in the face of rapid warming leads to collapse of the Gulf of Maine cod fishery – “A failure to detect changes in the environment or to act appropriately when changes are detected can jeopardize social-ecological systems. As climate change brings conditions that are increasingly outside the envelope of past experiences, the risks increase. The Gulf of Maine has warmed steadily, and the record warm conditions in 2012 impacted the fishery for American lobster.”

National Geographic: Warm Water May Spell the End of New England’s Iconic Cod — “Cod are cold-water fish. Warmer water makes it less likely that freshly spawned ones will survive, and it also reduces the populations of zooplankton that they eat. Venturing out into deeper water in search of food taxes their metabolism, and makes them more vulnerable to predators. The larger fish that prey on cod move through with the seasons, the researchers said—and because of the water’s warmth, may be arriving earlier in the year and leaving later, extending the time in which they linger to eat cod by more than a month.”

Boston Globe: Climate change hurting N.E. cod population, study says — “The rapid warming of the waters off New England has contributed to the historic collapse of the region’s cod population and has hampered its ability to rebound, according to a study that for the first time links climate change to the iconic species’ plummeting numbers. Between 2004 and 2013, the mean surface temperature of the Gulf of Maine — extending from Cape Cod to Cape Sable in Nova Scotia — rose a remarkable 4 degrees, which the researchers attributed to shifts in the ocean currents caused by global warming.”