Fish Tale Part Deux: “Warming oceans are hurting seafood supply—and things are getting worse”

Guest sequel by David Middleton

This is sort of a sequel to Eric Worrall’s post from yesterday.

From the American Association for the Advancement of Science of America…

Warming oceans are hurting seafood supply—and things are getting worse

By Erik StokstadFeb. 28, 2019 , 2:00 PM

Marine fish around the world are already feeling the effects of climate change—and some are reeling, according to the first large analysis of recent trends. Rising sea temperatures have reduced the productivity of some fisheries by 15% to 35% over 8 decades, although in other places fish are thriving because warming waters are becoming more suitable. The net effect is that the world’s oceans can’t yield as much sustainable seafood as before, a situation that is likely to worsen as global warming accelerates in the oceans.

A silver lining is that the research suggests well-managed fisheries are more resilient in the face of rising temperature …


Science! As in “she blinded me with.”

Warming oceans are hurting seafood supply—and things are getting worse… NOT!!!
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March 1, 2019 8:18 pm

“and some are reeling”

I thought it was fisherpersons did the reeling.

Reply to  lee
March 1, 2019 9:06 pm

Why not just “fishers”?

Bryan A
Reply to  Slywolfe
March 1, 2019 10:03 pm

Now that really cracks me up…fissures.

Reply to  Slywolfe
March 1, 2019 11:41 pm

It might possibly be perceived as sexist or racist or something. My good lady wife says she is not a fisher, but rather one of the female variety.

Reply to  lee
March 1, 2019 11:54 pm

No No No – never call your wife a fishwife. It won’t go well. Been there done that

Gary Ashe
Reply to  Slywolfe
March 2, 2019 11:36 am


Reply to  lee
March 2, 2019 12:16 am

Never seen a fish “reeling” , sound pretty bad.

a situation that is likely to worsen as global warming accelerates in the oceans.

This is obviously politically motivated BS with lines like that being a dead give away. Taking the future projection of failed climate models as though it has the certainly of something which has already happened.

Reply to  Greg
March 2, 2019 12:40 am

Surely in Alice in Wonderland, …

‘I’ve been to a day-school, too,’ said Alice; ‘you needn’t be so proud as all that.’
‘With extras?’ asked the Mock Turtle a little anxiously.
‘Yes,’ said Alice, ‘we learned French and music.’
‘And washing?’ said the Mock Turtle.
‘Certainly not!’ said Alice indignantly.
‘Ah! then yours wasn’t a really good school,’ said the Mock Turtle in a tone of great relief. ‘Now at ours they had at the end of the bill, “French, music, and washing — extra.”‘
‘You couldn’t have wanted it much,’ said Alice; ‘living at the bottom of the sea.’
‘I couldn’t afford to learn it.’ said the Mock Turtle with a sigh. ‘I only took the regular course.’
‘What was that?’ inquired Alice.
Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with,’ the Mock Turtle replied; ‘and then the different branches of Arithmetic — Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.’
‘I never heard of “Uglification,” Alice ventured to say. ‘What is it?’
The Gryphon lifted up both its paws in surprise. ‘What! Never heard of uglifying!’ it exclaimed. ‘You know what to beautify is, I suppose?’
‘Yes,’ said Alice doubtfully: ‘it means — to — make — anything — prettier.’
‘Well, then,’ the Gryphon went on, ‘if you don’t know what to uglify is, you are a simpleton.’

Alice did not feel encouraged to ask any more questions about it, so she turned to the Mock Turtle, and said ‘What else had you to learn?’
‘Well, there was Mystery,’ the Mock Turtle replied, counting off the subjects on his flappers, ‘ — Mystery, ancient and modern, with Seaography: then Drawling — the Drawling-master was an old conger-eel, that used to come once a week: he taught us Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils.’
‘What was that like?’ said Alice.
‘Well, I can’t show it you myself,’ the Mock Turtle said: ‘I’m too stiff. And the Gryphon never learnt it.’
‘Hadn’t time,’ said the Gryphon: ‘I went to the Classics master, though. He was an old crab, HE was.’
‘I never went to him,’ the Mock Turtle said with a sigh: ‘he taught Laughing and Grief, they used to say.’
‘So he did, so he did,’ said the Gryphon, sighing in his turn; and both creatures hid their faces in their paws.
‘And how many hours a day did you do lessons?’ said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject.
‘Ten hours the first day,’ said the Mock Turtle: ‘nine the next, and so on.’
‘What a curious plan!’ exclaimed Alice.
‘That’s the reason they’re called lessons,’ the Gryphon remarked: ‘because they lessen from day to day.’

Somehow re-reading all that, it is hard to imagine that is is in fact a parody. Like1984, it seems to be less a parody and more a manual for modern education.

Reply to  Leo Smith
March 2, 2019 2:22 am

All that changed is, as the Mad Hatter at the party said, – Fresh Cups!
There is even a reference to global warming :
The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.’

Just imagine what the green teens will do when they see they star in that poem.

Reply to  lee
March 2, 2019 12:20 am

Rising sea temperatures have reduced the productivity of some fisheries by 15% to 35% over 8 decades

So “some fisheries” have declined over the last 80y ? I’m sure that they have checked that no other changes apart from an barely measurable increase in temperature have occurred.

Pollution, over-fishing …. ???

Charles Higley
Reply to  Greg
March 2, 2019 6:13 am

Since the Argo buoy system shows clean cooling since 20004, the above is seriously flawed. They assume warming and simply analyze the fish data.

Colder water means slower phytoplankton growth and less fish. On the other hand, the metabolism of poi kilo therms slows down with cooling, so what they do eat goes less to metabolic cost and more to growth. That is why the best fisheries are in the colder waters—cooler means larger fish.

I am sure they think themselves some kind of marine biologist, but they are amateurs.

Reply to  Greg
March 2, 2019 9:19 am

when I was a wee lad, living by the ocean in northern New England, Russian factory ships would come by (this was before the 200 mile limit) and actually scrape the bottom clean and scoop up everything they could, process it and sell it or bring it home (usually sell it). the destruction of the fishing habitat that they did is still being felt today. didn’t need any ocean warming to destroy the fishing grounds. wiped out huge areas of cod. this was the fifties and early sixties.

Garland Lowe
Reply to  lee
March 2, 2019 12:34 am

lee, you ‘re being very PC. Fisherperson–Angler has less letters.

Reply to  Garland Lowe
March 2, 2019 1:25 am

Angler is too pro Anglo-Saxon

Joel O'Bryan
March 1, 2019 8:21 pm

With computer models any in silico virtual reality can be created and spoon-fed as “truth” like pablum to the ignorant masses who slurp it up, as long as it has the veneer of “science” dutifully applied.

The Left realized this. That is why they consciously began to make efforts 25 years ago to insert high level operatives in all the science societies in order to change the message with a bent on propaganda. to push ideas favorable to more government control and taxes.
Look no further than Marcia McNutt. She is a prime example of how the Left did that to push the climate change agenda. The Obama Team (not noted for its integrity on any issue which they wanted to advance), plucked Dr McNutt out of Monterey Bay Aquarium obscurity and began grooming her obvious leftist leanings for much greater ideological ends. And she was driven by ambition enough to throw any past scientific method pretenses to the wind. The rest is history. Science Mag in now crap science on any thing climate related. And she was being groomed to be Hillary’s White House OSTP Science Advisor to the President as well. Oooppps. So many sweet liberal tears on the night Hillary was defeated.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 2, 2019 2:35 am

I knew it! As ex-Silico vastly improved in performance there is uncanny correlation with warming.
Moore’s law is the reason.

Using the very same ex-Silico the auto and aero industries have vastly improved aero performance.
Something just does not add up.

Reply to  bonbon
March 2, 2019 4:31 am

What does not add up is the criteria that defines quality.

In engineering, that is a tangible measurable improvement in cost/earnings ratio or cost safety.

In Politics is is a measurable improvement in plausibility:fact ratio. The ideal political solution is a narrative that is utterly plausible, but totally fact free.

I.e. “Eating fat, makes you fat”. Whereas in the main its sugars and starches and alcohols that make you fat…

Climate change is marvelous. With enough people employed to make it plausible, its fact-free content is completely irrelevant.

March 1, 2019 8:25 pm

Wow! That really nailed it.

Reply to  ScarletMacaw
March 2, 2019 5:27 am

bbbbut …. facts aren’t FAIR! You cheated!

Only feelings count. If I FEEL that fishies are “reeling”, and use appropriately chosen adjectives and adverbs to describe the poor dears, then they must certainly be reeling.

March 1, 2019 8:30 pm

” Boats chasing Atlantic cod in the Irish Sea face a particularly grim future: The maximum sustainable yield of this stock will shrink by 54% for each additional degree of warming, the team reports today in Science.”

Since 1900, the oceans have not warmed even .1C, so what are they fussing about, the top 12″ of the oceans surface?

Reply to  Sunsettommy
March 2, 2019 12:25 am

The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy has destroyed fish populations, not global warming.

March 1, 2019 8:30 pm

I wonder which bit of the global temperature this Erik Stokstad lives in; for he seems to have got a bit overheated. Suggest like the fish he moves up to an higher latitude.

Meanwhile : More CO2 = more biomass = more fish. I don’t think he told the computer about that.

Reply to  David Middleton
March 2, 2019 3:44 am

Would be good to mention the cost per day of an onshore/offshore drill operation.
Even computer models for auto fluid dynamics are tested against a wind tunnel.
Just imagine the kind of modeling and testing for diesel combustion – a lot is at stake.
Models can go badly wrong – look at the initial Mach 1 tests – the refused to take shock seriously, lost planes.

Reply to  bonbon
March 2, 2019 1:07 pm

As far as I know there was only one fatality in the “initial Mach 1 tests”, Geoffrey DeHavilland jr in the DH 108. This was caused by high-rate pitch oscillations at transsonic speed. The loss of longitudinal stability for a tailless design had not been foreseen.

Oddly enough the first swept-wing tailless aircraft, Me 163, had very good high-speed characteristics (but a very dangerous power-plant), but essentially all later efforts in this line (and there were several, including in the US) proved deadly at high speed.

Reply to  bonbon
March 2, 2019 1:16 pm

Incidentally we still build aircraft prototypes, and we still do envelope-opening slowly and carefully. Even though we now have computational fluid dynamics models good enough to dispense with a lot of wind-tunnel work, they are not good enough to avoid occasional nasty surprises. In some cases, like aerodynamic flutter, they are practically useless.

And remember, modelling the airflow around an aircraft is vastly simpler than modelling climate, though from a purely mathematical point of view they are closely related (both essentially being based on the Navier-Stokes equations).

Joel O'Bryan
March 1, 2019 8:53 pm

Erik Stoksted of Sci Mag wrote, “When the water gets too warm, the enzymes they use for digestion and other functions are less efficient, impairing growth and reproduction.”

2 to 5 degrees Celsius above average is hardly “too warm” in any biological setting. Yes, an additional +30 deg C water temp is too warm, as that tends to cook fish to a nice white flaky texture, but that is beside the point.

So as biochemistry -tained PhD, I give this statement by Mr Stoksted a 3 Pinnochios = Mostly false.

As someone who’s research included much biochemistry, I can assure you this statement by Mr Stoksted is not true in general. It may be true in some circumstances, but generally, biochemical enzymatic activity follows T, at least for the first few degrees above “normal.”

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 1, 2019 11:40 pm

Solely in regards to potential variation in temperature of the water (not internal enzyme conditions) this has been a factor reported since the late 1980’s. In some kinds of fish they notably prefer breeding at lower, that is to say, cooler depths of their realm.

At lower water temperature the released fish sperms’ driving flagella will have the rate of their flaggellar waveform “beat” go slower. The flagella are then using ATP enegy relatively less rapidly & there is an increased time frame for the chance to find an egg to fertilize (& sperm duration of motility lasts longer).

As water temperature goes up the sperm’s driving flagella go faster & ATP is run down quicker. And then as ATP depletes the % of motile cells in the sperm cell goes down.

Different kinds of fish have different potential flagellar velocities (ex: tuna’s is faster than halibut’s, which in turn is faster than sea bass’) & also duration of motility varies among different kinds of fish. So if local water temperature changes the relevant response in this context is in terms of sperm motility as it relates to which different kind of fish being considered.

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  gringojay
March 2, 2019 12:08 am

That only strengthens my point that enzyme efficiency (turn-over rate) follows temp. Conserving energy by slowing enzyme turnover by going to lower temp can be surbival strategy.
But that is NOT what Mr Stokstad wrote. He wrote that enzyme efficiency goes down with higher temp. Clearly wrong. And bad science from Science.

Gary Pearse
March 1, 2019 8:54 pm

The fish are reeling! Remember lefty “progressives” do not have a sense of humor.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
March 1, 2019 9:15 pm

The lefty regressives are swallowing this research hook, line, and sinker.

Rey Johnson
March 1, 2019 9:03 pm

While working at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant located on the Chesapeake Bay, I couldn’t help but notice the preponderance of fishermen in their small boats hovering around the cooling water outfall. I suspect it wasn’t because the fishermen were cold!

Reply to  Rey Johnson
March 2, 2019 1:19 pm

It’s the same at the Oskarshamn nuclear powerplant in Sweden. Fishing is not permitted near the cooling water outfall, but the fishermen sneak in at night.

March 1, 2019 9:40 pm

The fish do not appear to have gotten the message of their doom, according to the look of the Aquaculture production graph. Either that or the few who are left are getting very careless.

March 1, 2019 10:03 pm

In parts of the Indian, South pacific, and the north pacific oceans,cold water sharks such as great whites are being seen in numbers in places previously unknown closer to the tropics. Does anyone believe that they would choose water temps warmer than their normal range?Or are ocean temps really falling? I would think that the sharks are the real experts on water temps. Since the WMO began adding surface ships temperature readings to the ARGO data the resulting warming bias has rendered them useless. Tracking sharks may be the way to go.

Reply to  Diastema
March 2, 2019 12:09 am

White sharks are seasonally migrants going off shore & back to shore. They also take advantage of lower oxygen content water’s feedstock fish. For an example of tracked great whites’ roaming in the tropical regions see free full text available on-line of “Philopatry and migration of Pacific White Sharks”.

March 2, 2019 12:13 am

Warmer oceans reduce certain fishing stocks, notably salmon. The whole PDO thing, (Pacific Decadal Oscillation) was discovered, not by a meteorologist, but an ichthyologist (fish guy). Indeed, pacific salmon stocks made a terrific, essentially immediate, rebound when the PDO shifted into cold in 2007. Record Salmon runs on the Campbell and Frazier rivers in BC in 2009 and 2010. The Cod fisheries near our Atlantic coast for millennium have moved north and south following the temperature optimum (which is pretty cold). When the AMO is positive, the fishery suffers.

Right now the oceans are warmer – a lot warmer than the mean – SSTA-wise. There are a lot of poorly understood, yet to be discovered, oscillations in the ocean temperatures and currents. All things tend to regress to the mean, ocean temperatures included. Atmospheric CO2 and the carbon cycle probably has little to nothing to do with any of this – but – the oceans are warmer. They have been warming. It is a big deal when it comes to fisheries.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
March 2, 2019 2:21 am

So this scare is really about the eco-elite worrying about not getting smoked salmon cheaply anymore? At least that makes sense…

John Dowser
March 2, 2019 2:02 am

Not “easy” but too difficult for the author perhaps?

1. On the page cited it’s clear that all rise is 99% China & Indonesia, not global at all.

2, The original article mentioned “8 decades” and then counter with a graph of 2 decades showing the rise of two countries is a bit “easy” indeed. Or in other words: zero effort and yet worthy for a blog>

This doesn’t mean I take a position on any claim of the original article, just highlighting the largely irrelevant remarks pretending to be some kind of critique.

Rich Davis
Reply to  David Middleton
March 2, 2019 4:48 am

I’m afraid that you’ve misinterpreted what the OECD data represents. Please see my comment below.

March 2, 2019 2:50 am

The movement of fishes would be a very good indication of the temperature of the Oceans, at least the first 50 metres. If they move then they want a change in temperature. Gt that Fish Guy, can’t spell that word, he should be able to tell us if a fish is moving to cooler warder or the reverse. Probably almost as good as the Agro buoys, certainly a lot better than the PC models.


Hocus Locus
March 2, 2019 3:00 am

“The fishies have all boiled away. Do you presume to know more than the Great Green Oz?? You ungrateful creatures! PAY NO ATTENTION to the fishing fleets blazing with artificial lights dragging miles of nets, behind the curtain.

The Great Green Oz has spoken!”

Rich Davis
March 2, 2019 4:03 am

David, I truly hate to play the role of griff here, but it appears that OECD’s definition of aquaculture is “the farming of aquatic organisms”, as distinct from fisheries or wild catches. So your chart doesn’t seem to be relevant to the question, or could be seen as misleading.

You might have had in mind that fish apparently don’t care much about water temperature because it’s highly likely that water temperature in fish farms is significantly warmer than in the open ocean. But to be intellectually honest, a measure of fish production from aquaculture as defined by OECD, is not a meaningful statistic. We do not know if 2016 production being 2.4 times greater than 2000 production represents an increase in productivity for existing fish farms, or represents a proliferation of fish farms, etc. In any case it does not seem to relate to wild-caught fishing.

Recent estimates suggest that about one-third of global marine fish stocks are biologically overfished, up from about 10% in the mid-1970s. And the rapid progress of aquaculture production (the farming of aquatic organisms) now represents more than wild catches globally, raises concerns about pollution, disease, invasive species and costal [sic] ecosystem degradation in various parts of the world.

(my emphasis)

Rich Davis
Reply to  David Middleton
March 2, 2019 5:41 am

Showing a rapid increase in aquaculture production without showing the decline in wild-caught harvest or the total of the two is misleading. Fish farming (aquaculture) has increased rapidly in the past few decades. It balances out the depletion of wild stocks that are being over-fished. None of it has the slightest bit to do with warming oceans. I’m not disagreeing with your conclusions, just suggesting that you leave yourself open to people saying that your chart is misleading.

Idiots like me, with a poor grasp of the English language, may be prone to think that you’re conflating aquaculture with total fish harvests.

I’ll leave it to others to decide if my take on this is crazy.

Rich Davis
Reply to  David Middleton
March 2, 2019 6:41 am

In no way do I suggest that fish supplies should exclude aquaculture. And again, my view is that warming doesn’t enter into it in the least.

I guess that you just don’t get my point that you can’t dispute a claimed reduction in total fish supply by only showing a change in an unspecified portion of the total fish supply. Does aquaculture supply 1% of the fish supply or 50%? How has wild-caught fishery production changed during the 2000-2016 period? How has the total changed? Showing the total of aquaculture and wild-caught would be the chart that makes your point fairly. Showing only the growth in aquaculture is like showing the growth of cryptocurrencies and claiming that it says something about world wealth.

After a bit of googling, I guess that aquaculture has grown to be about half of global fish consumption, and supposedly wild fishery catches have declined by 40% in recent decades. I guess that it would probably mean that the total fish supply was flat to a modest increase over the time period. Certainly nothing like the 2.4x increase in your chart.

Rich Davis
Reply to  David Middleton
March 2, 2019 7:50 am

Why do you refuse to understand my simple point? You can’t refute their claim by showing that a fraction of the seafood supply is rising rapidly. The total seafood supply is the relevant metric. In a very narrow sense, you are correct that they do not show data to support their claim. But you do not show valid data to refute their claim. Aquaculture is a fraction of the total seafood supply. A rapidly growing fraction, but still a fraction. It’s entirely possible that the total supply has fallen over the period. Nobody has provided any data about that. I think that you were probably right, but you failed to make the case by only showing that fish farming has increased rapidly.

My criticism was intended to help you make your case more clearly. But your response is that I don’t understand English. Well, fine, I apologize for thinking that you would be interested in any constructive feedback David. It will make me more cautious about trusting your data in the future.

Rich Davis
Reply to  David Middleton
March 2, 2019 8:07 am

But just to be sure I get your point, isn’t this what you were trying to say about my argument?

Rich Davis
Reply to  David Middleton
March 2, 2019 9:34 am

Perfect! That’s what I’m talking about!

That’s the chart that proves that the headline was a lie.

And, it’s a lie, not just because seafood supplies are not being “hurt”. It’s also a lie because it has nothing to do with ocean temperature (or at least if it has anything to do with ocean temperature, they haven’t provided the slightest bit of evidence).

I’m not expecting you to keep track of my earlier rants, but to anyone who might have noticed, it would be pretty laughable to think that I would want to explain away an alarmist lie with a convoluted strawman argument.

March 2, 2019 4:51 am

It does seem a shame to spoil a good scare story but it appears that fish, in the Red Sea, for example, suffer a temperature range from approx 13C in winter to 31C in summer, how will they cope with an additional 0.5C?

Lots of fish there, see here for examples:

David Dibbell
March 2, 2019 5:07 am

I note not only “reeling” but “net effect” as humorous fishing puns in the excerpt. If this was intentional by the original author, great word play. If not, even better!

HD Hoese
March 2, 2019 7:09 am

“The whole sea seems to die…” about the 1880 Atlantic tilefish mortality. Cause still not adequately explained, maybe AMO not properly regulated. Sort of like when predatory fish go through a school of anchovies, kill quite a few, looks bad. That’s why marine fish produce so many eggs, chance of living to reproductive age nearly zero. Tilefish are found in depths of 80-540 meters.

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