EPA study: Climate Change to Wipeout Eastern Trout, Salmon by 2100
According to an EPA study, in less than 90 years there will no longer be any trout or salmon east of the Mississippi River (barring a small area on Vermont’s northeast border) and populations in the west will only persist in the most mountainous areas. Current projections suggest climate change will render enormous swaths of habitat too warm to support these ecologically, and economically important cold-water fish.
In a press release this morning, Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway spoke on these findings, “’This report is shocking. Its map of trout and salmon habitat in the year 2100 shows a big blank space over the entire Adirondack Park. Without immediate action to curb the warming climate, EPA is predicting that all Adirondack trout and salmon populations will be dead within 85 years. A change like that would fundamentally alter the nature of this park, its water, wildlife and the economy of the communities. The Adirondack Park would never be the same again.
“ Janeway noted that many Adirondack trout and salmon populations are genetically unique and valuable to the entire web of life in the park. They are food for loons and other iconic wildlife, while also serving as a top predator in the waters they inhabit. Their loss would unravel the park’s web of life.”
Janeway’s statements should resonate throughout the U.S.. Not only would the loss of these fish be an ecological catastrophe, but it would deal a devastating financial blow to the communities supported by the fishing tourism industry. The national loss in revenue is estimated to run as high as $1.5 billion per year.
Viable cold-water habitat is projected to drop by 62% by 2100. However, there is hope. With global greenhouse gas mitigation that number could change to a loss of only 12%. Nationally, proactive mitigation efforts could preserve approximately 360,000 acres of cold-water habitat, as well as the previously mentioned $1.5 billion of revenue per year.
Trout Image via Shutterstock
Figures 1&2 via EPA
by Katharine Galpin