Global supply of seafood to be affected due to climate change, ocean acidification

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Though there have been quite a few studies that go into details about the impacts of global warming and climate change, it seems that we would need more convincing to start taking actions that would curtail and eventually put and end to global warming.

The latest study that showcases the damage done by global warming and ocean acidification takes the seafood route revealing that global supply of seafood is set to change substantially because of which a number of people across the world won’t be able to enjoy the same quantity and dishes in the future.

The latest study, conducted by an international team of scientists led by University of British Columbia researchers, is a part of the Nereus program. The program was formed to study the future of the world’s oceans and seafood resources.

The study reveals that future supply of seafood will be substantially altered by climate change, overfishing and other human activities.

William Cheung, UBC associate professor and the co-director of the Nereus program said that the types of fish that will be available in future will be very different in the future, both in terms of quality and quantity. There will be more of warm-water species that are smaller in size, and this will affect fish supply through the domestic and oversea fisheries as well as imports.

Researchers pegged climate change, ocean acidification, overfishing and destruction of marine ecosystems as the primary drivers of ocean change. Researchers say these changes will lead to a decline in fisheries in many regions and alter marine biodiversity and food web structures.

Researchers say there are solutions to help the ocean and communities prepare for the future. These include improving ocean governance globally to ensure sustainable fisheries and the need to limit carbon dioxide emissions.

“Global marine ecosystems have already been largely altered by overfishing,” said Daniel Pauly, professor at UBC and an advisor to Nereus. “This report clearly points out that any solution needs to deal with the CO2 problem as well.”

The report puts forward seven key statements for future oceans:

  • Due to CO2 emissions, change in global ocean properties – particularly temperatures, acidity and oxygen levels – are occurring at a scale unprecedented in the last several thousand years.
  • Climate change is expected to affect the oceans’ biological productivity from phytoplankton to the top predators.
  • Climate change has already been affecting global marine ecosystems and fisheries, with further impacts expected given current trends in CO2 emissions
  • Fishing exerts significant pressure on marine ecosystems globally – altering biodiversity and food web structures – and affects the ability of the international community to meet its sustainability goals.
  • The impacts of climate change interact with the existing problems of overfishing and habitat destruction, driven largely by excess fishing fleets, coastal development and market expansion.
  • Aquaculture is developing rapidly, with the potential to supersede marine capture fish supply. Yet, the full understanding of its impact, including its long-term ecological and social sustainability, is unclear.
  • Sustainable fisheries in the future require the further development and strengthening of international fisheries law, as well as the overarching international framework for ocean governance.