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"In fishing communities, people's well-being and the environment's well-being are intricately tied together," said Young, who is a David H. Smith Conservation Postdoctoral Fellow. "We know that climate change is affecting natural resources. We can see how it is affecting when things are blooming, where species are distributed, and -- because fish are mobile -- we're seeing dramatic changes in the distribution of fish in the ocean. But in order to fully understand how climate change is affecting the world we live in, we have to understand how it's affecting the environment, the animals that live in the environment, and also the people that interact with and depend on those animals."
The Northwestern Atlantic Ocean, the patch of sea located off the coast of the northeastern United States, is one of the most rapidly warming parts of the ocean. Young was intrigued by the intersection of the ecological effects with the economic ramifications for the people who depend on commercial fishing.
Harvesters - Species - Location - Young - North
"What we wanted to do was see if and how harvesters are responding to species changing location," said Young. "We found that large North Carolina-based trawl vessels, which are fishing primarily summer flounder and Atlantic croaker, were fishing off the coast of North Carolina in the late '90s and now, on average, are fishing 250 miles north, off the coast of New Jersey. That is a really big change."
To track the movements of fishing vessels, Young and a team of colleagues analyzed millions of logbook data entries, aggregated by "fishing communities," which the researchers defined using a combination of landing port, gear and vessel size, with a cutoff of 65 feet to distinguish large from small boats. This concept of "community" grew out of interviews in fishing communities by some of Young's colleagues, who found that this particular combination of geography...
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