Science and Beer: Exploring the Impacts of Climate Change on Fisheries

Climate Change Threatens Northwoods Fisheries: A Call for Adaptation and Restoration Strategies

Fisheries play a crucial role in the Northwoods’ outdoor recreation sector, which is a significant economic driver in the region. Lakes and rivers in the area are home to a diverse range of fish species. However, recent climate changes could negatively impact fisheries in the region.

Over the years, temperatures in Wisconsin have increased by about 2 to 3 degrees since 1950, and they are projected to warm an additional 2 to 8 degrees in the next 25 years. These climate changes will likely impact fisheries by altering fish populations and their behavior patterns.

Research fish biologist Holly Embke with the USGS Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center notes that we are already seeing changes in fish populations due to warming waters. Species like bluegill and bass are thriving, while cold water species like walleye are struggling. A recent study highlighted that shifts in ice-off dates may pose a threat to walleye spawning.

Despite these challenges, Embke emphasizes the importance of understanding where fish populations are struggling and thriving and implementing habitat restoration strategies to support these populations. Actions such as habitat restoration and focusing on different fish species like yellow perch or sunfish may help mitigate the impacts of climate change on fisheries.

Embke will be discussing these challenges and the significance of inland fisheries at the upcoming Science on Tap event in Minocqua on April 4. The event will be held at Rocky Reef Brewing Company in Woodruff and will also be available for streaming online. Embke hopes that attendees will gain a better understanding of the potential changes affecting fish communities and realize that while changes are inevitable, there are opportunities to adapt and support these ecosystems in a changing climate.

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