Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 31 Issue 02

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Volume 31, No. 2
Pages 19 - 23

OCEAN POLICY • Marine Species Range Shifts Necessitate Advanced Policy Planning: The Case of the North Atlantic Right Whale

Erin L. Meyer-Gutbrod Charles H. GreeneKimberley T.A. Davies
Article Abstract

Rising global temperatures are causing a poleward shift in species distribution. Range shift velocities are higher in the marine environment, with observed rates of 30–130 km per decade. Both protected and exploited species will be at risk if marine species management policies are not structured to anticipate these range shifts. The 2017 mass mortality event of the North Atlantic right whale showcases the detrimental impact of unanticipated climate-mediated behavior in a species protected by geographically and seasonally fixed policies. Based on the results of a demographic capture-​recapture model, right whales may face extinction in fewer than 30 years unless protective policies are expanded to cover their shifting distribution. Increased support of long-term monitoring programs paired with environmental modeling research is critical to developing more proactive conservation management strategies and preventing further ecological crises.


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