Are warming seas forcing fish to migrate to cooler waters?

That’s the thrust of an intriguing report in Nature magazine as covered in this morning’s Post. The impacts on the seafood industry are already playing out. New England fishermen after cod and haddock report having to move farther north to catch them.

There are impacts in the Mid-Atlantic as well. According to The Post, warmer waters from Delaware to Virginia are pushing Atlantic surf clams to move farther north, and this has resulted in the closure of a clam processing plant in Virginia. Atlantic surf clams are a popular variety used for fried dishes or in chowders

I tried and failed to find out what plant it was. I did find one that was shut down in recent years near Mappsville on Virginia’s Eastern Shore but could not confirm the reason. I spoke with Mike Hutt, executive director of the Virginia Marine Products Board who had seen The Post story but couldn’t confirm details of any related plant closings or the impact of warming waters regionally

It would seem that warmer waters will add further stress to the region’s troubled seafood industry, especially for certain species. I’m not certain how it would affect favorites such as blue crabs that seem to thrive in tepid waters much farther south or oysters, which are struggling make a comeback in Chesapeake Bay. My guess, and I am no expert, is that other prized species such as bluefish and rockfish (striped bass to Northerners) might change their migration patterns because of climate change.

If the Nature research is correct, the fish may be sending us a powerful message that many haven’t figured out yet.

Peter Galuszka blogs at Bacon’s Rebellion. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.