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Effects of climate change to further degrade fisheries resources: UBC researchers
Date:11/20/2011

A new study led by University of British Columbia researchers reveals how the effect of climate change can further impact the economic viability of current fisheries practices.

"Fisheries are already providing fewer fish and making less money than they could if we curbed overfishing," says Rashid Sumaila, principal investigator of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit at UBC and lead author of the study. "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."

Partly supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts, National Geographic, the World Bank and U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the study is a broad view of the impact of climate change on fisheries and their profitability. It is published online today in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Over the last century the ocean has become warmer and more acidic. Other human-led factors, such as pollution and overfishing, have also been hard on marine species. With ocean warming, many species will move further towards the poles and into deeper water.

While fisheries in a few regions, such as the far north, may benefit from climate change, many other regions, particularly those in the tropics, can expect losses in revenues. Regional examples can help inform what could happen globally. For example, the reduction in landings of pelagic fisheries in Peru as a result of changes in sea surface temperature during the 1997-1998 El Nio event caused more than US$26 million of revenue loss.

"Changes in temperature and ocean chemistry directly affect the physiology, growth, reproduction and distribution of these organisms," says William Cheung, a biologist at the UBC Fisheries Centre. "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 factor
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Contact: Rashid Sumaila
r.sumaila@fisheries.ubc.ca
604-822-0224
University of British Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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