The report details how climate change is warming lakes, rivers and streams and making existing stresses worse, creating an uncertain future for America’s freshwater fishing traditions and the jobs that depend on them."More extreme heat and drought are already causing big problems for fish that rely on cold, clean water - and the warming we’ve seen so far is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Doug Inkley, National Wildlife Federation senior scientist and one of the lead authors of of the report titled Swimming Upstream: Freshwater Fish in a Warming World. “We can protect America’s outdoor heritage, but only if we act now to cut industrial carbon pollution, invest in clean energy, and make communities and habitats more resilient to the impacts of climate change."
The report also highlights the implications of fire on fisheries. In the Sierra, the wildfire near Yosemite National Park has already burned 371 square miles and is only 80 percent contained. According to NWF's report, "while fish can typically survive the fires themselves, they are at much greater risk in the aftermath. The lack of trees and groundcover means less shading to keep rivers cool and a greater likelihood of extensive erosion. Heavy rainfall events coming on the heels of a wildfire can wash large quantities of silt and ash into local streams."
In California, this very real threat has the potential for severe economic strain. In 2011, anglers spent more than $1.3 billion related to freshwater fishing, according to the report.
According to the report, the threats to the nation’s fish "will only increase if carbon pollution continues on the business-as-usual path. Urgent action is needed to change the course we are on: We must move away from the current reliance on fossil fuels and invest in clean energy solutions that do not pollute."