Extreme heat waves can wipe out thousands of marine life, putting jobs and supplies at risk

In this century, extreme heat would wipe out hundreds of thousands of tonnes of fishable fish from a country’s seas, in addition to long-term declines in fish populations linked to climate change, according to a new report. UBC research.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Researchers at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for Oceans and Fisheries (IOF) used a complex model to incorporate extreme annual ocean temperatures in exclusive economic zones, which account for the majority of the world’s fish catch, in climate-related projections for fish, fisheries, and the human communities that depend on them.

Worst case scenario model

Modeling a worst-case scenario in which no action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they predicted a 6% loss in prospective annual catch and a 77% reduction in biomass, or number of fish by weight in a particular area, due to hot years. These reductions are in addition to those expected due to long-term climate change on a decadal scale.

Researchers predicted that during severe ocean temperature events, in addition to expected temperature changes per decade, fishing income would be reduced by 3% globally and employment by 2%, leading to a possible loss millions of jobs.

Dr William Cheung, professor and director of UBC’s Institute of Oceans and Fisheries, remarked: “These high annual temperatures would be an additional shock to an overloaded system” (IOF). “We show that in countries where long-term trends, such as ocean warming and deoxygenation, have already damaged fisheries, adding the extreme temperature shock would increase the consequences to a point where those fisheries are likely to be unable to adapt. It’s similar to how COVID-19 is straining the healthcare system by introducing a new burden.”

Related Article: New Ocean Temperature Dataset Could Help Scientists Build Better Models and Forecasts

Maritime heatwaves

Chinese fleet's indiscriminate fishing practices cause concern in Galapagos

(Photo: South Korean Ministry of Defense/Getty Images)

According to the co-author, Dr. Thomas Frölicher, professor in the division of climatic and environmental physics at the University of Bern, extreme temperature phenomena are expected to become more frequent in the future. “Today’s maritime heatwaves and their severe impact on fisheries herald events because these events are producing environmental conditions that long-term global warming will not produce for decades.”

Worsening of the situation in the world

the EEZs of the Indo-Pacific region, including the waters surrounding South and Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands; the eastern tropical Pacific, which runs along the Pacific coast of the Americas; and some nations in the West African region, according to the researchers, would be more affected than others.

An extreme marine heat event in Bangladesh, where fishing-related sectors employ a third of the country’s workforce, is expected to eliminate 2% of the country’s fishing jobs, or about one million jobs, in plus the more than six million jobs that will be lost by 2050 due to long-term climate change.

Ecuador’s position is equally grim, with severe high temperature spells expected to wreak havoc on an additional 10% of the country’s fishing revenue, or about $100 million, on top of the 25% drop. expected by the middle of the 20th century.

An urgent situation


(Photo: Harrison Haines)

“This study underscores the urgent need to create solutions to extreme maritime temperatures,” Cheung added. “Extremes of temperature are difficult to anticipate in terms of when and where they will occur, especially in hotspots with little ability to provide reliable scientific projections for their fisheries. When planning responses to climate change in the long term, we have to take this uncertainty into account.”

Active fisheries management, according to Cheung, is essential. For example, adjusting catch quotas in years when fish populations suffer from high temperature events or, in severe situations, closing fisheries to allow stocks to recover are two possible responses. “We need systems in place to deal with it,” Cheung explained.

Also Read: 2050 Earth Map Predicts Our Dark Future Brought by Climate Change

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