Sea Grant Funding Goes a Long Way for Former NMFS Fellow

March 6th, 2019

Another shining moment at NJSGC!

NJSGC would like to congratulate former National Marine Fisheries Service/Sea Grant “Population and Ecosystem Dynamics” fellow Christopher Free on recently having part of his PhD dissertation published in the acclaimed peer-reviewed academic journal, Science magazine. A brief abstract from Free’s “Impacts of Historical Warming on Marine Fisheries Production” states:

Climate change is altering habitats for marine fishes and invertebrates, but the net effect of these changes on potential food production is unknown. We used temperature-dependent population models to measure the influence of warming on the productivity of 235 populations of 124 species in 38 eco-regions. Some populations responded significantly positively and others responded significantly negatively to warming, with the direction and magnitude of the response explained by eco-region, taxonomy, life history, and exploitation history. Hindcasts indicate that the maximum sustainable yield of the evaluated populations decreased by 4.1% from 1930 to 2010, with five ego-regions experiencing losses of 15 to 35%. Outcomes of fisheries management – including long-term food provisioning – will be improved by accounting for changing productivity in a warmer ocean.

Free’s work was also featured in a New York Times article entitled “The World is Losing Fish to Eat as Oceans Warm, Study Finds.”

According to Trevor Branch, an associate professor at the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (who was not involved in the study), “This is going to be one of those groundbreaking studies that gets cited over and over again… Most of what I’ve seen before in terms of climate-change impacts have been speculative, in terms of, ‘We think this is what’s going to happen in the future.’ This one’s different.”

View the full PDF here.

Rutgers Marine Sciences

Sending our congratulations from New Jersey – we’re so proud of you Chris! Formerly of Rutgers University, Free’s now a postdoctoral researcher with the Sustainable Fisheries Group at UC Santa Barbara.