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Fish: Section 4.8 in Climate change and the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary: Interpreting potential futures.

March 7, 2013


  • Decreased ocean survival of Chinook and coho salmon in the coastal waters of Washington, Oregon, and California is likely based on historical and present day observations during conditions of unusually high water temperatures and reduced or delayed upwelling.
  • Based on observations during conditions of unusually high water temperatures and reduced or delayed upwelling, highly migratory southern species including Pacific hake, jack and Pacific chub mackerel, and Pacific sardine will likely become more abundant and distributed closer to shore off Washington. In contrast, resident forage fish including northern anchovy, Pacific herring, and smelts (surf and whitebait) may become less abundant.
  • Small pelagic fish (i.e. forage fish and mackerel) respond more rapidly to climaterelated changes in ocean conditions than benthic fish. Distribution and abundance of benthic fish reflect average ocean conditions over periods of many years. A key question for groundfish is how long term, sustained changes in ocean conditions will affect the current spatial configuration of habitats and fish communities, and the productivity of those habitats and communities. Little is known about effects of ocean acidification on northeast Pacific fish; however, work with tropical reef fish suggests that increased acidity impairs larval fish behavior (their ability to find suitable reef habitat from olfactory and auditory cues) and ultimately their survival.
  • Response of benthic fish in the OCNMS to future increases in hypoxia will likely be similar to those for fish off the central Oregon coast where hypoxia developed each summer starting in 2002. Abundance and condition of fish will decline in hypoxic areas. Fish will move inshore seeking higher oxygen concentrations. Species adapted to low oxygen environments, for example Dover sole, will be less affected.

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