Climate Change Impacts on Global Fisheries

Fish MarketClimate change may exacerbate the poor condition of global marine fisheries already stressed by overfishing, pollution, and habitat degradation, according to a new study in Nature Climate ChangeDr. Rashid Sumaila, University of British Columbia, and co-authors drew from observations, experiments, and computer models to show that as climate change alters water temperature and chemical cycling in the oceans, the distribution and abundance of many marine species will be altered as well (see table below).

These climate change impacts are expected to have economic effects on fisheries worldwide, such as losses in revenues and reduced availability of seafood to consumers. Despite gaps in knowledge, the authors suggest that there is sufficient information for governments to begin to develop policies to help fisheries adapt to these changes.

In general the study found that fisheries less stressed by pollution, habitat degradation, and other human-caused impacts are more resilient to oceanographic shifts due to climate change. Ending overfishing and maintaining healthy fish populations are fundamental to increasing the capacity of fisheries to adapt.

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