This week, as Iceland’s president declared global warming “no longer a joke” at the World Ocean Summit, a country just across the Atlantic deals with the effects of climate change on one of its prized natural resources: the Atlantic salmon.
Fly fishers are catching striped bass – a fish that hails from as far south as Florida – in waters as far north as Newfoundland and, in a few cases, Labrador. It’s happened for a while now, but over the past decade, a striped bass catch bas become much more common.
An article in Hakai Magazine explores the impact of striped bass on Canadian Atlantic coastal waters – specifically, the Miramachi River, where the striped bass population has exploded in the past decade. Striped bass spawners there exceeded 300,000 in 2016, and research shows striped bass are eating as much as 18 percent of the river’s out-migrating salmon.
Scientists suspect the striped bass takeover is due to the rising temperature of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. It’s increasing more than 1 °C per decade, making the waters hospitable to competitive fish species.
The article points out that the life span of a striped bass can reach 30 years. That fact, combined with no foreseeable potential of decreasing Gulf of Saint Lawrence temperatures, worries many that the effects of the striped bass migration on Atlantic salmon could persist for decades or longer – ecological consequences unknown.