The FSBI’s COP26 letter

Adding our voice to the COP26 call

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Global societal consensus on the effects of climate change on fisheries and other aquatic resources

Below is a condensed version of the letter sent to the Rt Hon Alok Sharma (the President of COP26) and to Mr Nick Bridge (the UK Special Representative for Climate Change) from our President, Professor Colin Adams, on behalf of the FSBI.

Towards the end of 2020 the FSBI joined 111 other societies, representing 80,000 scientists across the world to call for urgent action to reduce emissions to avoid catastrophic impacts to commercial, recreational and subsistence fisheries, aquatic ecosystems, human health, and global economies (Read More on that Here).

 

The Urgency of Carbon Emission Reductions

It is very clear that there is an urgent need to reduce carbon emissions to ensure the sustainability of this vital global food source. We also seek to underscore the importance of protecting the integrity of healthy aquatic ecosystems and restoring degraded systems, and eventually reversing, the effects of climate change.

 

Climate change will result in fish species range reductions, species extinctions, and the expansion of invasive species. Delaying action to stop underlying causes of climate change will have economic, environmental, and societal consequences.

Many of these changes are and will be, irreversible.

But, they will continue to worsen if we persist on our current trajectory with a mounting toll on vulnerable ecosystems, human societies, and local and global economies.

 

Mitigation and Adaptation to Help Protect Aquatic Resources

As part of any climate solution, we must protect the integrity of our healthy aquatic ecosystems and work to restore degraded systems in order to maintain their role in the storage of carbon as a crucial part of halting and eventually reversing the effects of climate change.
In addition, coastal ecosystems are being transformed, degraded, or lost, either largely or in part due to carbon emissions causing global ocean acidification. Not only does the affect primary production, from coral reefs to kelp forests, but is also tied to the survival of organisms especially shellfish.

Furthermore, climate change is interacting with other stressors such as excess nutrient input, overharvesting, and novel species interactions to further suppress marine ecosystems.

Thus we must mitigate the impacts of climate change on fish and fisheries and plan for the adaptation required to ensure the long-term health of freshwater, coastal, and marine ecosystems.Click To Tweet

The economic and environmental value of the ecosystem services provided by global aquatic resources is of the utmost importance to the future of us all and safeguarding these resources must be of the highest priority. We urge you to further exercise your leadership on the global stage to achieve even greater progress in the face of this climate emergency.

 

 

The FSBI has Joined a Worldwide Rallying Call for Urgent Action on Human-Caused Climate Change

A worldwide statement from 110 societies calls upon urgent action on climate change 

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The World Climate Statement

Below is a condensed version of the statement from above, drafted by the AFS, that outlines the challenges presented by climate change, the science based evidence for human-caused climate change and the needed responses. 

 

The Challenges

1.Increased atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels and land use changes are driving current climate change.

2. Impacts already occurring range from increased frequency, intensification, and severity of; meteorlogical events, hydrological disasters; ocean acidification and deoxygenation. These changes are currently causing an unprecedented ecological backlash on our environment at a global scale.

 

These challenges are precursors of more damage to fisheries, biodiversity, and human society at large.
Delaying action to stop underlying causes of climate change will have economic, environmental, and societal consequences.

 

Changes, Reductions and Loss;  Marine Environments

In the marine environment shifts in species composition, behaviour, abundance, and biomass production is an increasing trend. For instance lobster, cod, mackerel, coral reef fishes and other species important to fisheries are moving poleward to deeper waters or declining.

In addition coastal ecosystems are being transformed, degraded, or lost, either largely or in part due to carbon emissions causing global ocean acidification. Not only does the affect primary production, from coral reefs to kelp forests, but is also tied to the survival of organisms especially shellfish.

Furthermore climate change is interacting with other stressors such as excess nutrient input, overharvesting, and novel species interactions to further suppress marine ecosystems.

Freshwater Environments

Freshwater ecosystems cover less than 1% of the planet’s surface but support one-third of vertebrates, 10% of all species and is more vulnerable to terrestrial changes with less capability to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Abiotic changes can alter species abundance, predator–prey dynamics, expansion of invasive species, growth, recruitment of species, and novel species interactions. Leading to declines in the number and diversity of freshwater aquatic organisms.

This will impact recreational and commercial fish harvest because of the increased frequency and severity of droughts and floods, damaging the quality of freshwater.

The prominent influence of climate change on these hydrological and meteorological events combined with lower adaptation capability often results in; poor recruitment, inability to access habitats, increased algal blooms from runoff, reducing water quality and re-emergence of diseases. More worryingly, these diverse and small-scale changes combine to create multiple, cumulatively stressful challenges to aquatic species.

 

Climate Change Puts Food Security, Public Health and Ecosystem Services at Risk

 

All life forms need clean and sufficient water.

 

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, fish accounts for 17% of animal protein consumed globally. Furthermore, 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.

Furthermore, the warming of waters elevates bioaccumulation of heavy metals increasing the prevalence of waterborne pathogens affecting both human and animal health.

Overall fisheries catch is projected to decline related to increasing declines in water quality and aquatic science shows need for immediate climate action primary production as a result of climate change, with corresponding effects on food security.

It will also impact many businesses that are dependent on local ecosystems for; sustainable diving, snorkelling, angling, marine mammal and bird watching, and other recreational activities.

Climate change impacts on aquatic ecosystems are affecting incomes, food security, key cultural dimensions, and livelihoods of resource-dependent communities.Click To Tweet

All of Society Must Take Rapid Action to Halt Human-Caused Climate Change

Rapid action to curb release of greenhouse gas emissions and to remove and store CO2 from the atmosphere is needed to ensure the prevention of calamitous consequences of human-caused climate change.

Global and national targets are necessary to protect and restore carbon dense ecosystems and reduce the impacts of climate change.

Governments, industry, academia, and sectors of society must prioritize actions in a concerted way to halt human-caused climate change.

A rapid transition towards green energy sources, accomplished by all governments by immediately acting on the advice of specialists.

To better understand other environmental stressors that act synergistically with climate change we must provide resources for mapping and research. This will arm natural resources agencies with the tools to mitigate these impacts and plan for changes in aquatic ecosystems.

Movement to curtail human-caused climate change can result in advanced, novel technologies; strong economies; healthier aquatic ecosystems; greater food security; and human well-being.