Wildlife

Warming Waters are Driving Bering Sea Salmon and Crab Crashes

Billions of snow crab disappeared from the Bering Sea in the past few years — a crash that’s devastated Alaska’s crab fishing fleet and its harvest. Bycatch crab and salmon) didn’t kill them(the big vessels that scoop up millions of whitefish, like pollock, while sometimes accidentally “bycatching”.

The federal scientists who track Bering Sea harvests say there’s no way the trawl fleet could have caused the epic crash in snow crab. Instead, they say, climate change was a major driver: A marine heat wave, combined with what had been a booming crab population, likely drove the die-off, as the crabs’ metabolism rose with warmer water temperatures and they ran out of food. Warming ocean and river temperatures are also likely driving major declines in chum salmon, which have prompted parallel calls for stricter bycatch limits.

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