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3-Minute Market Insight

EP 426 | AIRED 02/25/2019

How The Sea Star Die-off Hurts Commercial Fisheries

February 25, 2019 - Diminishing sea star stocks over the last 5 years have caused a ripple effect through other species, ultimately hurting commercial fisheries.

In 2013 scientists began noticing depleting stocks of sea stars along the West coast of Alaska down to Mexico.

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It has been coined as one of the largest die-offs of a species in modern history as abundance dropped as much as 96 to 100 percent in some areas.

Scientists reported that the collapse of the sea star population could also wipe out important "shallow water ecosystems that provide a home for seals, sea otters, and commercially important fish."

Ocean conditions like the warm "blob" that travelled through the region is said to be one of the leading causes of the disease.

This is shocking news alongside the fact that 2018 was announced as the hottest year ever on record.

Warmer water conditions and decreased sea star populations has created a seemingly never-ending ecological domino effect among dozens of species.

--- One of sea stars' biggest food options are sea urchins, so populations are increasing rapidly as a result.

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Urchins are travelling through the coast depleting the kelp beds and depriving habitats for fish and invertebrates.

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Diminished kelp forests, which are a haven for juvenile fish, are causing abalone to starve, which decreases the biomass.

The economic impact to the abalone fishery is estimated to be around $26 million dollars.

Salmon is also affected by depleted sea star populations - to what extent the effect will be is unknown, but it is sure to ripple through to the commercial fisheries in the coming years.

Join us every week on the 3 Minute Market Insight as we review everything from market conditions to the ecological conditions that create a baseline for the industry.

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