A dramatic rise in ocean temperature is changing the kinds of fish that swim off New Jersey’s coast — a development that has significant ramifications for the state’s fishing industry and could even alter restaurant menus.

 

Species that used to be centered off New Jersey, like shad, have shifted north to New England in search of cooler waters. Fish once centered off Virginia, like black sea bass and summer flounder, now swim in abundance off New Jersey.

 

“We’ve been seeing unprecedented warming in the ocean over the past several decades,” said Malin Pinsky, a marine biologist at Rutgers University who has studied the changes. “Climate change and the warming of ocean waters is not some abstract global problem. We can see the implications right off our shore in New Jersey.”

 

Temperatures had risen one degree every 14 years off New Jersey since the 1970s. In the past decade, warming has accelerated to one degree every 21Ž2 years, Pinsky said.

 

“Marine fish are very sensitive to a change in temperature — they can only survive in a narrow range, so they are seeking out cooler waters toward the poles and deeper in the ocean,” he said. “And deeper generally means farther from shore.”

 

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