How Are Fishing Communities Responding to Climate-Induced Range Shifts of Target Species?

Talia Young , Graduate Program in Ecology & Evolution, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Emma Fuller , Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Kaycee Coleman , Rutgers University Marine Field Station, Rutgers University, Tuckerton, NJ
Mikaela Provost , World Wildlife Fund, Washington, DC
Malin Pinsky , Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Kevin St. Martin , Department of Geography, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ
Many fish and invertebrate species have demonstrated significant poleward range shifts in response to warming climates. Landings of some fisheries have also been shown to shift poleward, though at different rates than their target species. A more detailed analysis is needed of how fishers are responding to range shifts of target species, and how those responses are affecting fishing communities. We analyzed community-level vessel trip data, which included fishing location, species caught, and permit and crew counts for all commercial trips in federal waters from the Gulf of Maine to Cape Hatteras from 1997-2013, in conjunction with fisheries-independent survey data in the same region. We found distinct regional and gear patterns in fishing community changes over time: communities in the Mid-Atlantic and communities using larger vessels were more likely to shift their mean fishing location northward than were communities in New England or communities with smaller vessels. This regional contrast appears to follow regional patterns in latitudinal shifts by fish species. These results highlight previously undocumented and important impacts of climate change on coastal communities.