Out With Shrimp, In With Jellyfish? The seafood industry is facing potential overhaul due to climate change. Record-breaking ocean warming, shifting currents, and continued development in coastal communities are all contributing to a changing planet and concerning climate patterns that stand to dramatically impact the world’s seafood supply and could deliver a $10 billion hit to fisheries annually by 2050.
A steady rise in ocean temperatures over the last year has outpaced the decades-long average warming of the oceans, according to the Washington Post, and average global ocean temperatures in June were almost a full degree Celsius above the average recorded from 1982 to 2011—delivering a major blow to the habitats of the world’s most commonly consumed seafood species.
The Gulf of Maine, where lobsters, bluefish, crab, flounder, and mussels are major exports, has been warming three times faster than the average rate of the world’s oceans since the 1980s, and the population of wild blue mussels has dropped 60% along the coast in that time, according to the Boston Globe.
Out With Shrimp, In With Jellyfish? Seafood Industry Facing Potential Overhaul Due To Climate Change
The warming of that same body of water has also threatened the lobster industry in Maine: The catch off of the island of Vinalhaven, known for its lobster fishing, was the lowest in 2021 as it has been in a decade, the Globe reported, and the epicenter of the lobster population has moved 100 miles north into cooler waters toward Canada since the 1970s.
The Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska saw the disappearance of 10 billion snow crabs in 2022, devastating the state’s fishing industry in a crash scientists think is the fault of warmer ocean water. Erin Fedewa of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told PBS that a lack of sea ice in the region can lead to starvation and higher rates of disease in young crabs.
Climbing ocean temperatures are impacting mussels’ and oysters’ ability to grow their shells, and conventional oyster habitats are shrinking due to warmer waters, but the heat also makes consuming raw shellfish more dangerous than ever—warm waters allow Vibrio, a bacteria that makes people sick if they eat infected seafood, to thrive.
Read more: forbes.com