Two new reports provide an updated picture of conditions supporting fisheries in the U.S. Northeast Shelf marine ecosystems. One report focuses on Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine, two ocean regions off New England, and the other report focuses on the Mid-Atlantic Bight. These are the three major regions within the U.S. Northeast Continental Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem.
For the first time, the reports focus directly on how well we have achieved fishery management goals and the risks to achieving those goals posed by ecosystem changes and other human activities. Linkages between environmental conditions and managed species are also highlighted throughout the report. This focus ensures that scientists are providing ecosystem information in a form that the regional fishery management councils can use effectively.
Major findings in this year’s report include:
- Seafood production trends downward
- Recreational fishing effort is steady, but fewer anglers are taking for-hire trips
- Waters continue to warm and marine heat waves continue
- Less cold, fresh water is entering the Gulf of Maine
- The Gulf Stream is further north
- Chesapeake Bay’s warmer winter and cooler spring affected blue crab and striped bass<
- More fish species are moving to the north and east of their historic distribution, some into deeper water
The reports also cover new and rising factors, including offshore wind energy development and COVID-19 effects on fishery harvests and scientific data collection. There are more than 20 offshore wind development projects proposed for construction over the next decade in the Northeast. They have the potential to impact many parts of the ecosystem. With sufficient data, subsequent reports will further address these factors.