Climate change hits fisheries economy

Nov. 21, 2011 at 7:33 PM
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VICTORIA, British Columbia, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- A Canadian-led study concludes the effects of climate change can have an impact on the economic viability of the world's current fisheries practices.

The study -- led by University of British Columbia researchers -- found the globe's oceans have become warmer and more acidic in the last 100 years, and other human-led factors, such as pollution and overfishing, have also been hard on marine species.

With ocean warming, many species will move further toward the poles and into deeper water, a UBC release said Sunday.

"Fisheries are already providing fewer fish and making less money than they could if we curbed overfishing," Rashid Sumaila, director of the UBC Fisheries Economics Research Unit, said. "We could be earning interest, but instead we're fishing away the capital. Climate change is likely to cause more losses unless we choose to act."

While fisheries in the far north may benefit from climate change and species movements, many other regions, particularly those in the tropics, will experience losses in revenues, the study said.

"Changes in temperature and ocean chemistry directly affect the physiology, growth, reproduction and distribution of these organisms," William Cheung, a UBC biologist, said. "Fish in warmer waters will probably have a smaller body size, be smaller at first maturity, with higher mortality rates and be caught in different areas.

"These are important factors when we think of how climate change will impact fisheries."

Curbing overfishing is crucial to making marine systems more robust and ready for changes that are already occurring, the study said.

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