Meeting global climate target may up fish catch by 6 million tons – Economic Times

TORONTO: Potential fish catches could increase by six million metric tonnes per year, if countries abide by the Paris Agreement global warming target of 1.5 degrees Celsius, a new study has found.

The researchers also found that some oceans are more sensitive to changes in temperature and will have substantially larger gains from achieving the Paris Agreement.

“The benefits for vulnerable tropical areas is a strong reason why 1.5 degrees Celsius is an important target to meet,” said William Cheung, associate professor at University of British Columbia’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries in Canada.

“Countries in these sensitive regions are highly dependent on fisheries for food and livelihood, but all countries will be impacted as the seafood supply chain is now highly globalized. Everyone would benefit from meeting the Paris Agreement,” Cheung said.

The researchers compared the Paris Agreement 1.5 degrees Celsius warming scenario to the currently pledged 3.5 degrees Celsius by using computer models to simulate changes in global fisheries and quantify losses or gains.

They found that for every degree Celsius decrease in global warming, potential fish catches could increase by more than three metric million tons per year.

Previous research had shown that today’s global fish catch is roughly 109 million metric tonnes.

“Changes in ocean conditions that affect fish stocks, such as temperature and oxygen concentration, are strongly related to atmospheric warming and carbon emissions,” said Thomas Frolicher, senior scientist at ETH Zurich.

“For every metric tonne of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere, the maximum catch potential decreases by a significant amount,” said Frolicher.

Climate change is expected to force fish to migrate towards cooler waters. The amount and species of fish caught in different parts of the world will impact local fishers and make fisheries management more difficult.

The findings suggest that the Indo-Pacific area would see a 40 per cent increase in fisheries catches at 1.5 degrees Celsius warming versus 3.5 degrees Celsius.

Meanwhile the Arctic region would have a greater influx of fish under the 3.5 degrees Celsius scenario but would also lose more sea ice and face pressure to expand fisheries.

The findings may provide further incentives for countries and the private sector to substantially increase their commitments and actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, researchers said.

The study was published in the journal Science.

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