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Two new studies shed greater light on the impacts that climate change is having on oceans and fisheries. A study published last weekend in the Journal Science found that climate change has caused a 4.1 percent decline between 1930 and 2010 in the global productivity of ocean fisheries, with some of the largest fish-producing regions of the globe experiencing much greater losses of up to 35 percent.
Specifically, the researchers determined that the most negatively impacted areas are five regions that include the Sea of Japan/East China Sea and the North Sea, where fisheries experienced losses between 15% and 35%.
The losses are even greater when overfishing is factored in — it is significantly harder for fisheries to rebuild populations with ocean warming.
Some fish species benefited from temperature changes, such as fisheries in Labrador-Newfoundland, the Baltic Sea, and the Indian Ocean.
However, these gains are far outnumbered by the declining populations – and even the fisheries that gained may eventually experience declines as temperatures continue to rise.
And in more bad news for the oceans, a new study published in Nature Climate Change reported that the number of ocean heat wave days each year increased by more than 50 percent between 1987 and 2016 as compared to the years between 1925 and 1954, with these heat events occurring more frequently and lasting for longer periods of time. The lead author of the study said, “You have heatwave-induced wildfires that take out huge areas of forest, but this is happening underwater as well. You see the kelp and seagrasses dying in front of you. Within weeks or months they are just gone, along hundreds of kilometres of coastline.”
Why This Matters: Oceans are vital to human life. And the damage to oceans that these studies indicate is very alarming news, with implications for food security, sea level rise, and storm protection. This week leaders from around the globe are meeting at the World Ocean Summit organized by The Economist, an annual event that is intended to heighten awareness, particularly among leaders in business, about the importance of conserving our oceans. These problems certainly need their attention. And these studies should, of course, provide further impetus for countries like the U.S. to do more to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Why This Matters: If the waters off Virginia are suitable for wind farms, with their close proximity to ports, naval facilities, and tourism, then it is hard to imagine why wind power can’t be developed in many other areas along the U.S. coast.
by Jenna Sullivan-Stack, Postdoctoral Scholar, Oregon State University Department of Integrative Biology When preparing for the birth of my son this February, I decided to make him a mobile of some of the things that are most important to me (I am not crafty, so this was a real labor of love). What I ended […]
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