Global Fisheries Threatened by Declining Ocean Health

Photo by light ups, CC BY-NC 2.0

The latest research from the Copernicus Marine Service highlights a worrying drop in the health of our oceans. Rising temperatures in the global ocean and European seas, alongside an unprecedented decline in Arctic sea ice, assert the extent of the link between human-caused climate change and the state of Earth’s oceans and subsequently our marine fisheries.

There is a strong link between ocean temperature and marine biodiversity, the extent of warming indicated here could create significant disruption to fish populations across the globe. Furthermore, the level of CO2, one of the key drivers of climate change, stored in the ocean has dramatically increased since the beginning of the 2000s. The CO2 stored in the ocean significantly increases the water’s acidity, creating “devastating” impacts on wild fish populations. Rising ocean acidity impacts the ability of shellfish and coral to calcify, or form their shells, this not only threatens shellfish fisheries but has serious knock-on effects for finned fish further up the food chain and creates new challenges for the aquaculture industry.

The report also draws attention to the risks attached to the large variations in ocean currents, such as the Atlantic Meridonial Overturning Circulation (AMOC) that circulates water through the Atlantic. These currents bring nutrients up from the ocean depths, supporting marine ecosystems and therefore the fisheries that depend on them. The strength of the AMOC has been in decline since 2005. This decline, driven by long-term variability, compounds the threats towards oceanic fisheries.

These findings emphasise the importance in tackling climate change in order to protect these marine ecosystems and the millions of people who rely on them for their livelihoods and food security.

Featured photo by Martin Pettitt, CC BY 2.0. In-text photo by light ups, CC BY-NC 2.0

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