Sunday, 18 June 2017

Marine expert warns of climate emergency as fish abandon tropical waters




Daniel Pauly is calling for a new plan to manage fishing levels as the industry’s expansion combines with global warming

Helen Davidson in Darwin
Thursday 15 June 2017 04.20 BST Last modified on Thursday 15 June 2017 04.22 BST 

As climate change pushes marine species towards cooler waters, and the fishing industry expands around the globe, the tropics are emptying out, a leading fisheries expert has warned.

The federal government is expected to release its new management plan for marine reserves in coming weeks, after a 2016 review recommended winding back protections. However Dr Daniel Pauly has called for the creation of more, saying they are the only realistic form of mitigation to the current crisis.

Pauly, principal investigator at the Sea Around Us research organisation, said it was unknown whether the “explosion” of fishing industries or global warming was having the biggest impact on fish stocks, but both needed to be addressed.

“The depth, the distance from the coast, all of these were factors which protected fish. Now we go everywhere … now nothing protects the fish,” he said during an observation tour of Darwin’s tropical harbour.

“Climate change is something that is already being perceived by fish. It’s already happening and they’re already moving,” he said.

Warmer waters were pushing marine species away from the equator at a rate of about 50km per decade as they followed the ideal temperatures for feeding and spawning.

 “In temperate areas you will have the fish coming from a warmer area, and another one leaving. You’ll have a lot of transformation but they will actually – at least in terms of fishery – adapt. In the tropics you don’t have the replacement, you have only fish leaving.”

Research by Pauly and the Sea Around Us has repeatedly called for greater focus on fisheries data from a global perspective rather than local, to properly assess the impact of commercial competition and climate change.

“Locally the work must be done also, but you can get insights if you look at the global issue,” he said.


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