UNC Researchers: Climate change causing fish migration

Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 6:58 PM EDT
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CARTERET COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - The University of North Carolina Institute of Marine Sciences says climate change is threatening the fishing industry, which contributes close to $300 million to the economy in North Carolina.

Marine researchers say climate change is continuing to impact the environment along the coast and is now impacting the amount of fish in the water here in the east.

University of North Carolina’s Marine Sciences college in Morehead City has conducted research into the decrease in the number of fish.

Dr. Janet Nye, Associate Professor at the Institute of Marine Sciences, has been studying water temperatures and how it impacts fish along North Carolina’s Coast.

Nye says the increase in temperatures has caused flounder and grouper numbers to decrease.

“Anything too hot or too cold they just don’t do as well and so they will try to stay pretty close to that optimal temperature,” said Nye.

Nye’s research has also shown a change in the types of shrimp found off the coast, saying white shrimp are now becoming more common as opposed to brown shrimp.

Fishermen say they have also noticed the changes.

“The shrimping patterns have changed,” said Carteret County fishermen Chris Yeomans. “They hang around longer. You know used to stop you know October, November; and now a lot of them shrimp right on into December and even into January.”

Dr. Nye says the increase in temperature makes some fish migrate out but it also brings new animals like stone crabs to the area.

Nye says research also shows an increase in bull shark nurseries along the coast.

Dr. Nye says if the trends continue, fishermen may have to adapt their business and start looking for new animals to catch.

If the fish don’t repopulate, this could mean a significant impact on the roughly $80 million in dockside value and other parts of the fishing industry in the state.

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