Fish Stocks Shift Northward As Ocean Warms

Oct 20, 2020

Credit Dave Cannon

A fishing trawl survey in the Bering Sea appears to have documented some fish stock changes caused by the warming climate. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, has been conducting trawl surveys of the northern Bering Sea since 2003. 

During that time, the proportion of juvenile king salmon from the Yukon River has been fairly consistent. But not anymore.

Normally the kings from the Yukon River make up 90% of the juvenile salmon caught in the surveys, but there has been a significant decline in the last three years. With the waters in the Bering Sea getting warmer, the number of juvenile king salmon from the Yukon River has gone down, dipping to as low as 65% in 2019 and averaging about 74% from 2017 to 2019.The lower proportion of Yukon River stocks may be due to juvenile king salmon moving north from the southern Bering Sea, places like Bristol Bay and the Kuskokwim River.”

Cod and pollock, also not normally found in the northern Bering Sea, are also showing up in significant numbers there.