Friday, May 30, 2014

The Fishing Industry Is Poised to Lose Billions Due to Climate Change

A worker harvests oysters for Taylor Shellfish in Washington, another company grappling with the effects of ocean acidification. (Credit: AP/Ted S. Warren, file) Click to enlarge.
The global fishing industry is poised to lose $17 to $41 billion by 2050 due to climate change’s effects on the marine environment, according to a new report.

The report (pdf), published by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership and the University of Cambridge, outlines the range of challenges that increasing ocean temperatures and acidification will bring to the seafood industry, based on findings from the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report.  The authors found that climate change puts the 400 million people who depend heavily on fish for food at risk, especially small-scale fishermen in the Tropics.  That’s because yields are expected to fall by 40 to 60 percent in the Tropics and Antarctica — in the high latitudes, however, the report said yields are likely to increase 30 to 70 percent.

Some fish stocks will be able to migrate to cooler or more food- or oxygen-rich waters, which is good news for those fish populations but can lead to conflicts among countries as to which nations are entitled to the displaced stocks, and also could lead to more illegal fishing.  The report singles out the recent shift of Atlantic mackerel to Icelandic waters over the last few summers as one example — with these new fish stocks, Iceland and the Faroe Islands have been fishing mackerel outside of international agreements.  Top predators like tuna are some of the most likely to move, putting economic strain on small island nations in particular.

“This report is a wake up call for the seafood industry to recognize the scale of the threat to ocean resources from climate change and acidification,” Blake Lee-Harwood of Sustainable Fisheries Partnership said in a statement.

The Fishing Industry Is Poised to Lose Billions Due to Climate Change, Report Finds

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