Fading Fishermen: A Historic Industry Faces A Warming World

Patrick Whittle reports for AP on dwindling fishing industries in the face of overfishing, foreign competition, and now, climate change.

Waters once teeming with fish and crustaceans have seen dramatic drops in recent decades, Patrick Whittle reports for AP. As Whittle explains, “After centuries of weathering overfishing, pollution, foreign competition and increasing government regulation, the latest challenge is the one that’s doing them in: climate change.”

The Gulf of Maine, where fishermen for centuries have caught cod, lobsters, and other species in the cold gulf waters, is now warming faster than 99% of the world’s oceans. These warming waters are causing species like clams to migrate northward to deeper, colder waters, while others like lobsters have succumbed to disease (particularly shell disease) or predators.

Whittle profiles fishermen like Robert Bradfield, who he wryly describes as “one of the East Coast’s most endangered species, a Rhode Island lobsterman, until he pulled his traps out of the water for the last time about a decade ago.” Speaking of his community of fishermen in Newport, Bradfield says, “There’s probably 95 percent attrition out of that fishery in this area. Of all the guys I fished with, I was a lobsterman for 30 years, and there’s maybe three left.”

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