“Ocean Shock” Interactive Web Series Details Disaster Trends for Fish Worldwide

Reuters reporters and photographers spent more than a year collecting stories and little-reported data for a series revealing a natural disaster unfolding beneath the sea. Their findings, released this week in a multi-media interactive web series called “Ocean Shock”, include the following:

Fish are moving 10 times farther on average than land animals affected by rising temperatures;

In the U.S. North Atlantic, fisheries data show that in recent years, at least 85 % of the nearly 70 federally tracked species have shifted north or deeper, or both, when compared with their long-term average locations;

In recent years, once-bountiful lobster catches in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts have collapsed. Now, Maine is booming, with about 85 percent of the haul. But old-timers fear the species will continue shifting north to Canada.

As recently as the 1980s, Portuguese fishermen each year caught as much as 110,000 tons of sardines. They are now limited to 14,000 tons and face further limits on their iconic dish;

In Japan, overfishing and fluctuating temperatures have shrunk the stock of a beloved snack food—the flying squid—and shifted its range north, making the creature increasingly impractical to catch. As recently as 2011, fishermen were hauling in more than 200,000 tons a year. That had fallen by three-fourths to 53,000 tons last year.

Warming waters are stressing tropical nations. But the aquaculture industry, seen as a way of sustaining seafood production, is adding to the pressure on fisheries in these countries. Roughly 20 % of the world’s wild-caught fish never go near a plate. Instead, they’re netted in places like West Africa and ground up to make fishmeal for far-off fish farms that serve rich nations.

In “Ocean Shock,” Reuters documents these and other disruptions to marine creatures and the people who depend on them. You can read the full series here.

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