As climate change sends fish to colder waters, some boats follow

Flipping through his captain’s log, Larry Colangelo looks at the water temperatures off Atlantic City’s coast this past summer. Unusually warm 70- and 80-degree days are jotted down inside the record-keeping book he’s had for nearly two decades.

For $800 a day, he takes tourists and professional anglers alike onto his 31-foot ship. But in recent years, he said, certain fish have become more challenging to catch and keep.

Climate change and outdated regulations are partially to blame, researchers say, and it’s affecting local fishermen in different ways.

“I only know what I see, and what I see is that the water definitely seems to be warmer. … We have to work a little harder now,” said Colangelo, who owns a charter boat docked at Kammerman’s Marina in Atlantic City.

He now looks for mahi-mahi and tuna, in addition to sea bass, within the three-mile limit of state waters.

Fish have responded to a gradual increase in the ocean’s temperature by slowly migrating north and deeper to colder waters. By 2100, the habitat for black sea bass is expected to move 300 miles farther north, according to a Rutgers-led study from 2017.

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