While many people first look at the dangers of climate change that directly affect people, how about the indirect issues involved? I’m talking about the ecosystem – most specifically, the fishing system. Michigan’s great lakes are a source of jobs for thousands of people that live in this area. Many of those jobs revolve around fishing in some way, shape or form. Whether it’s taking care of fisheries, going out on a boat, serving up fresh fish at a restaurant or even supplying the materials to do so; the fish are important. However, as climate change effects our entire planet, Michigan is starting to heat up as well. Projections show that this could mean an increase of about 4 degrees year around, drastically effecting a sensitive ecosystem.
When the temperature takes a change for the hotter, fish and other wildlife have to change their ways – or die. Although we think that most water areas are around the same temperature, fish are very sensitive in their habitats. When there is a change in water temperature, many cold-water species (such as bass and bluegill) have to move northward. Other species that are less adaptive often face death when their ecosystem is disrupted. Also, the plants that feed the fish and keep the water ecosystem intact can also be at risk as the temperatures rise. When these plants become endangered, the fish that rely on them so much have to relocate before it’s too late. Another problem that fish face are invasive species that are brought in with the warm weather. One of the most infamous is the “Snakehead”, which is capable of breathing out of water for extended periods of time and adapting to the warmer waters. Invasive species have been shown to have disastrous effects. How many times have you cut your hand or foot on a zebra mussel? Well, that’s an invasive species, and they are damaging to boats, fish and plants as well.
Climate change is a serious issue to both fish and humans. If we don’t protect our waters how can we expect to protect ourselves?