The projected consequences of a changing climate — warmer, shorter winters, more extreme weather events and more frequent droughts – threaten the nation’s freshwater fish and the sporting traditions that rely on them, according to a report recently issued by the National Wildlife Federation.
Swimming Upstream: Freshwater Fish in a Changing World documents how existing stresses on fish populations, such as habitat loss, water pollution, invasive species and disease, increase as temperatures in lakes, rivers and streams warm and how changing conditions will pose additional threats to the nation’s sportsfishing traditions. The report demonstrates numerous effects of climate change on freshwater fish, including how
• Drought, heat waves and wildfire cause fish mortality directly
• Reductions in snow and ice shift the timing and volume of streamflows, endandgering availability of water in summer and limiting opportunities for ice fishing in winter
• Drought reduces streamflow volume and kills riparian vegetation, leading to faster rises in water temperature and limiting cool or coldwater pools in which fish take refuge
Not only are freshwater fish vulnerable, but the country’s sporting traditions and the economic sector that they support are at risk, the report points out. The report calls on sportsmen to support local, state and federal actions to protect America’s outdoor heritage by cutting industrial carbon pollution, investing in clean energy and making communities and habitats more resilient to the impacts of climate change.