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Report: Ohio’s Freshwater Fish Can’t Survive Warming World

PHOTO: Rising water temperatures are not only posing a threat to Ohio fish, but also local economies, according to a report released this week by the National Wildlife Federation. Walleye jumping out of Lake Erie. Courtesy NWF.
PHOTO: Rising water temperatures are not only posing a threat to Ohio fish, but also local economies, according to a report released this week by the National Wildlife Federation. Walleye jumping out of Lake Erie. Courtesy NWF.
September 6, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Whether its catching walleye in Lake Erie or catfish in the Ohio River, fishing is an important part of Ohio's outdoor traditions and economy.

But a new report finds climate change fueled by industrial carbon pollution is affecting freshwater fish.

Frank Szollosi, Great Lakes regional outreach coordinator with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), says the organization’s research finds warming waters can mean lost habitat for cold-water species, and poses threats including pollution, invasive species and disease.

"Walleye and perch and other native species are put under great stress by the dead zones that are developing in Lake Erie as water temperature rises," he stresses

Szollosi adds the situation poses a risk to the fishing industry.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, more than one million anglers contribute more than $1 billion a year to Ohio's economy.

To help solve the problem, the NWF report recommends cutting carbon emissions to slow the pace of warmer temperatures, habitat improvements and water conservation.

Szollosi says to help curb climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency needs to finalize the limits on carbon from new and existing power plants by 2016. And he says leaders need to stand behind the president's recently announced Climate Action Plan.

"Certainly the centerpiece is to transition Ohio away from carbon pollution from its coal-fired power plants and accelerate its transition to clean, renewable energy including wind, solar and energy efficiency," Szollosi says.

Nationwide, there are 147 freshwater fish species listed as threatened or endangered and Szollosi says rising water temperatures will only expand the list.



Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH