Blog: Katy AskewSeafood sector warned on global warming

Katy Askew | 1 July 2014

The New Zealand seafood industry received a stark warning this weekend: a "massive shellfish extinction event" could be on the cards.

According to local reports, US expert Todd Capson told a University of Otago conference that ocean acidification and climate change are putting the NZ - and global - seafood industries under threat.

Capson, of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, is due to meet with the country's policy makers to discuss the problem - and potential solutions - this week.

The SFP first warned that a global reduction of CO2 emissions is required to safeguard the seafood industry as we know it earlier this year, when it released a briefing in partnership with the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and Judge Business School.

The briefing warned that global warming of two degrees would result in a loss of landings to global fisheries of between US$17-41bn. Fishery yields will increase 30-70% in high latitudes but fall by 40-60% in the Tropics and Antarctica, with large species like tuna in the Pacific and Indian oceans are likely to move eastwards.

"400 hundred million people depend critically on fish for their food and face reduced access to marine protein because of climate change and acidification. Artisanal fishermen in the Tropics are most at risk," the report warned.

Changes in the distribution of marine species may lead to conflict between fishing nations and significant increases in illegal fishing, it continued.

The SFP has issued a call to action. Will the NZ government - and others - listen?

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