At the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea’s 18th meeting in New York, which will be hosted between May 15 and 19, 2017, Nereus Program’s Director of Science, William Cheung, will be giving a presentation on the effects of climate change on fisheries. The theme of the meeting is “The effects of climate change on oceans.” Cheung’s presentation will be delivered within a segment of related presentations between 3:00pm and 6:00pm on Tuesday May 16, 2017 at Conference Room 2 of the Community Board. Detailed information regarding the itinerary of the meeting and information for participants can be found here.
Climate change alters ocean conditions, including seawater temperature, ocean acidity and oxygen level that affect the biology and ecology of marine fishes and invertebrates. As a result of ocean warming, marine fishes and shellfishes are shifting their distribution by 10s to 100s of kilometers towards higher latitude or 10s of meters to deeper waters where waters are cooler waters. Changes in ocean primary productivity are also impacting the reproduction of marine species, affecting the replenishment of fish stocks. These ecological impacts affect fisheries directly through reducing abundance of targeted fish stocks, impacting the effectiveness of fisheries management, and increasing disputes in the sharing of transboundary fisheries resources. These impacts will intensify in the future. Under the ‘business-as-usual’ scenario of climate change, global fisheries may suffer from a decrease in catch by more than 10% relative to now in the 21st century, leading to a loss of potential revenues of more than $10 billion per year. Tropical fisheries are highly vulnerable to climate change, with a potential decrease in fisheries catches of more than 30% by the 2050s in areas where people’s dependence on fish as a source of nutrients is also amongst the highest in the world. Mitigating climate change and meeting the Paris Agreement global warming targets can largely reduce climate impacts on fisheries. In addition, adaptation measures that have large co-benefits on coastal communities, including conserving and restoring fish stocks and critical habitats as well as improving capacity of fishing communities to response to changes, are important to ensure the long-term sustainability of marine fisheries under climate change.