On November 3, 2015, Scripps Oceanography put out a press release about fish populations off the California coast.
Two independent long-term time series now reveal strikingly similar trends of wide-ranging declines in fish populations in the California Current.
Tony Koslow and John McGowan, researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, and Eric Miller of MBC Applied Environmental Sciences of Costa Mesa, compared two independently collected data sets from the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) and power plant cooling water intakes (PPI) from five sites along the California coastline.
The data show that fish abundance from both studies has declined sharply since 1970, with a 72 percent decline in overall larval fish abundance in the CalCOFI data set and a 78 percent decline in fishes from the PPI sampling.
Although there was limited overlap in species between the nearshore PPI samples and the more offshore CalCOFI sampling, the correlation between the two time series was about 0.85. The study was published in Marine Ecology Progress Series.
“It is notable that these two very distinct data sets tell us that the larval fish populations collected by CalCOFI and near shore fish species observed by PPI data are both declining at nearly the same rates,” said Scripps researcher John McGowan.
It is indeed notable that two distinct data sets show a greater than 70% decline in fish populations in the California Current ecosystem since 1970 (the last 45 years).
But saying that something is notable doesn't mean anyone will actually notice it. I found four stories reporting on fish declines in Google News. All these reports were local. Only phys.org picked up the story nationally (they reprinted the press release). The Orange County Register reported that warming of the California current was most likely the cause of the fish declines. That is almost certainly correct.