10 December 2019
Sustainable management and good resource management needed to increase the resilience of fish stocks to climate change.
In the Solomon Islands, like in the wider Pacific Islands region, fish and invertebrates (specifically shellfish) fulfill important ecological roles in coastal and oceanic habitats, and many species are targeted by fisheries, making vital contributions to food security, livelihoods, government revenue and cultural heritage.
“Climate change is beginning to have a profound effect on the status and distribution of coastal and ocean habitats the fish and invertebrates they support and, as a result the productivity of fisheries and aquaculture,” according to the Pacific Environmental Portal.
Considering this disclosure further, I have been reading a report published on 25 September this year by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report says how scientists examined the interconnected web of the planet's oceans and icy landscapes, delivering a series of grim projections on the chaotic impact of climate change on super-charged storms, rising seas and the ecosystems that sea life depends on.
They also looked at the consequences for global diets and the role oceans play in feeding the world.
In the Solomon Islands, like in many islands and coastal areas, fishing is both a primary source of income and a main source of protein. A new, separate report, however, has warned that ocean fish stocks could drop by as much as a quarter if greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current trajectory
"The changes in the oceans will have direct impacts on people who are depending on these systems for food," said William Cheung, a professor from the University of British Columbia.
Scientists have determined that the sustainable fish catch—the amount of fish that can be caught without decimating populations—could drop by as much as a quarter by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current path.
As I wrote in a similar article most recently, the oceans have absorbed about 90 percent of the excess heat and about a quarter of the carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning and other human activities, leading to rising ocean temperatures, increasing acidification and lower oxygen levels that will have an impact on sea life.
“Shellfish won't be able to develop shells properly; harmful algae blooms will proliferate, choking off coastal fisheries; and populations of fish will continue moving to cooler waters, leaving behind the fishing communities and economies that have depended on them for centuries, scientists are warning.”
In tropical countries, as in the Solomon Islands, nations that are also at risk from sea level rise, the loss of fish stocks could prove devastating, nutritionally and economically.
“Researchers have also projected the northward migration and disappearance of some tuna species from the tropics and of cold-water-loving species like lobster, which will move poleward as waters warm.
“Better management of fisheries and policing of illegal fishing also will help save fish stocks, as will setting aside large and more marine protected areas, among other measures. But reducing the fossil fuel emissions that drive ocean warming and all its cascading effects remains the critical priority.
"If we can reduce emissions ... we can substantially reduce the scenario we project," Cheung said. "If we engage with sustainable management and consumption of seafood, our report suggests that good resource management can increase the resilience of fish stocks to climate change."
Source of quoted news – Global Climate Treaty.