by North Cairn, staff writer
PORTLAND â The latest science and ways for fisheries to adapt to rapid environmental change will be the focus of a two-day symposium, “A Climate of Change,” in Portland this week.
The nonprofit Island Institute, based in Rockland, will host the meeting Wednesday and Thursday to focus on issues facing fishermen and their communities, as well as scientific findings of scientists about affected marine ecosystems.
Reports from fishermen of warming waters and lower stocks over the last several months prompted the symposium, said Susie Arnold, marine scientist with Island Institute.
The institute hopes to improve understanding of how climate change is affecting New England fisheries and fishermen and to generate discussion about how fisheries management is influenced by those developments. The symposium will also look at steps to incorporate climate change considerations into strategies and public policy governing fisheries.
New England’s ocean ecosystems are experiencing some of the most dramatic climate change impacts along the U.S. shore, with record-high ocean surface temperatures already causing population shifts off temperature-sensitive species, including cod. The federal Northeast Fisheries Science Center established that sea surface temperatures in 2012 in the region that includes the Gulf of Maine reached 54.2 degrees â the highest temperature in more than 50 years.
A second study found early evidence that warming is disrupting the basis of the food web on which cod depend.
The concern is not limited to warming waters. A recent study by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on Cape Cod in Massachusetts suggests that the Gulf of Maine is especially vulnerable to ocean acidification.
These challenges present an opportunity for multiple agencies to come up with solutions that address more than one problem at a time, said Jeff Young, a communications officer for Pew Charitable Trusts, a partner with Island Institute in formulating the symposium’s agenda.
The symposium runs 9 a.m.-5 p.m. each day at the Portland Company Complex, 58 Fore St., Portland.