Fish seeking cooler water leave some nets empty

POINT JUDITH, R.I. — There was a time when whiting were plentiful in the waters of Rhode Island Sound, and Christopher Brown pulled the fish into his long stern trawler by the bucketful.

“We used to come right here and catch two, three, four thousand pounds a day, sometimes 10,” he said, sitting at the wheel of the Proud Mary — a 44-footer named, he said, after his wife, not the Creedence Clearwater Revival song — as it cruised out to sea.

But like many other fish on the Atlantic Coast, whiting have moved north, seeking cooler waters as ocean temperatures have risen, and they are now filling the nets of fishermen farther up the coast.

Studies have found that two-thirds of marine species in the Northeast United States have shifted or extended their range as a result of ocean warming, migrating northward or outward into deeper and cooler water.

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About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 13 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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