Indicator Species

New England's Fishermen and the Challenges of Climate Change

New England’s coastal waters are warming faster than 90% of the rest of the world’s oceans. We look at fishermen as an indicator species, on the leading edge of that change, forced to adapt. Fishermen are engaged in new collaborations with scientists to understand climate change; in some cases they've switched to fishing entirely new species; and for some fishermen, adapting has meant moving out of the marine fisheries into aquaculture—but even that industry is proving vulnerable to environmental threats.  

A 3-part report by Pien Huang.

Pien Huang is a GroundTruth Fellow stationed at WCAI. 

Pien Huang/WCAI

Aquaculture is on the rise in Massachusetts.  For many entering the business, shellfish farming seems like a more secure option than the marine fisheries.  But climate change looms as a long-term threat over the industry. 

Chef Scott Robertson: Try Jonah Crab at Home

Nov 14, 2018
Pien Huang/WCAI

As executive chef at Fisherman’s View Restaurant, Scott Robertson is a pioneer in the growing field of Jonah crab cuisine.

Pien Huang/WCAI

The lobster industry in southern New England has been on the decline for decades. As waters warm, some lobster fishermen are adapting by switching their catch to Jonah crab, a crustacean once considered a trash species.

Pien Huang/WCAI

New England’s fishermen are feeling the effects of climate change in fundamental ways, as fish populations respond to changes in the ocean environment. For scientists trying to understand this dynamic system, one big challenge is getting enough data. To address that problem, a number of scientific projects are building on an unlikely collaboration, enlisting data collection from the men and women who are out on the water most.