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New England’s historic fishing industry has been in crisis mode for years as the region’s waters warm at a faster rate than most of the world, efforts by regulators to preserve dwindling fish stocks bankrupt boat captains, and a general malaise settles over coastal towns built around the ancient profession.
Research published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finally puts a percentage on just how much changes to climate norms in the region affect employment.
Climate shocks and significant deviations from the average temperatures reduced fishing jobs in New England’s coastal counties by 16% from 1996 to 2017, according to the peer-reviewed paper by University of Delaware researcher Kimberly Oremus.
“It’s driven by the warmer winters,” Oremus, an assistant professor of marine policy, said by phone.
To calculate the impacts of climate change on jobs, Oremus compared fishing data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Bureau of Labor Statistics with the North Atlantic Oscillation ― the closely tracked sea surface-level pressure phenomenon that serves as New England’s dominant climate signal. As a control group, she contrasted the New England figures with fishing employment in the South Atlantic, where the movement of fish populations in response to warming has been less severe.
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