PORTLAND, Maine (NECN) - Warmer ocean waters are leading New England fishermen to raise their eyebrows when they pull up their nets in the Gulf of Maine.
Fishermen report seeing new species of fish that are normally found
in more southern waters. Black sea bass, butterfish, tilefish and john dory fish all seem to be migrating North. Fishermen and scientists both agree the reason is warmer water.
2012 was an unusually warm year, the ocean temperature increased as much as five degrees, a huge event in terms of impact on the ocean.
This year has been colder, but the signs of change continue. According to John Annala, the Chief Scientific Officer at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, "Ecologically it means something is going to move in to fill the gap left by species moving out, like cod and shrimp are moving out of the Gulf of Maine."
If the territory for many of these fish continues to spread North
it could have a major impact on New England's groundfish industry. The quotas for those fish are held by fishermen South of Cape Cod. There would have to be some restructuring of quota to handle that issue. It hasn't reached that point but as fishermen pull in more and
more species that aren't supposed to be here it looks less like a fluke and more like the future.