Living Oceans joins World’s Leading Aquatic Scientific Societies Urgently Calling for Cuts to Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Dire consequences for marine resources without significant and fast action
Vancouver: In an unprecedented statement released today, Living Oceans joins the American Fisheries Society (AFS) and 110 aquatic scientific societies representing more than 80,000 scientists across the world to sound a climate change alarm. The societies call for drastically curtailed global greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts of man-made climate change to fish and aquatic ecosystems. Unless urgent action is taken to reduce emissions, scientists predict catastrophic impacts to commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisheries and human health and global economies.
“Swift and resolute action by governments and by individuals to reduce emissions is essential to halt irreversible impacts to freshwater and marine ecosystems, fish, and fisheries from climate change. We must act now to safeguard our drinking water, food supplies, and human health and well-being. These grim predictions for the world’s aquatic ecosystems are not just theoretical. They are affecting us now and failure to act will imperil future generations,” said American Fisheries Society President Scott Bonar.
Climate change is already altering marine and coastal ecosystems with significant implications for wild capture fisheries and marine economies. Many harvested stocks will shift from one area to another, or even across international boundaries with implications for seafood supply, ports, and associated businesses. Loss of habitat from sea level rise will lead to declines in the vast majority of commercially and recreationally harvested marine finfish and shellfish that are dependent on estuaries and coastal systems for some stage of their life cycle. Increased carbon dioxide absorption is changing ocean chemistry, rendering some waters too acidic for marine organisms with calcium shells, such as oysters and clams, and threatening the base of the marine food web.
The statement released today also stresses the importance of attending to “identification and easing of other environmental stressors that act synergistically with climate change”, such as the impacts of salmon farms on struggling wild populations of BC salmon. Warmer and saltier ocean waters have been providing the ideal conditions for parasitic sea lice populations on the farms to climb to levels never before seen on the BC coast, with lethal infestation levels recorded on several species of wild salmon in farming areas.
Across the globe, incomes, food security, and livelihoods of aquatic resource-dependent communities are already at risk. Climate change threatens food security by endangering fish, an essential source of protein for many across the globe. Here in BC, threats to wild salmon strike at the heart of First Nations culture and identity and imperil the very survival of the coastal ecosystem.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, fish accounts for 17% of animal protein consumed globally, fishing and aquaculture directly employ almost 60 million people, and global trade in fish products has reached US$152 billion per year, with 54% originating in developing countries.
"When healthy, aquatic ecosystems are important allies that capture carbon and reduce climate warming, but when damaged, they may let go of the large amounts of carbon they hold. We need to protect our healthy aquatic ecosystems to maintain their crucial storage of carbon to help reverse the effects of climate change,” said Antonio Camacho, Chairperson of the European Federation for Freshwater Sciences.
Karen Wristen, Executive Director, Living Oceans Society 604-696-5044
The full text of the statement may be found here.
Release of this statement is in conjunction with the start of Virtual Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society on September 14. Please contact Beth Beard at bbeard [at] fisheries.org for press access to this event, which includes leading climate speakers. More information is available at afsannualmeeting.fisheries.org.
Founded in 1870, the American Fisheries Society (AFS) is the world’s oldest and largest fisheries science society. The mission of AFS is to improve the conservation and sustainability of fishery resources and aquatic ecosystems by advancing fisheries and aquatic science and promoting the development of fisheries professionals. With five journals and numerous books and conferences, AFS is the leading source of fisheries science and management information in North America and around the world. Learn more at fisheries.org.