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In this issue:
Species Migration
Invasive Species
Ocean Acidifcation
Seafood Choices Quick Links
Notes


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12-14 November 2009
 
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17-19 November 2009

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27-30 November 2009

 In December, Copenhagen will host the 15th Conference of the Parties for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This issue of Afishianado highlights some of the effects of climate change that are most relevant to the seafood industry, including ocean acidification, species migration and the proliferation of invasive species. While the exact impacts of changing climate are not yet fully understood, what we do know is that not every industry will be equally affected; the seafood sector could be disproportionately impacted, compared to tourism and other sectors that rely on the ocean. This industry is responsible for a relatively small percentage of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, yet its reliance on marine resources means it is highly susceptible to the adverse effects of temperature and acidity change.
 
While climate issues may severely affect the seafood industry, it also has the power to create disproportional positive change. By tapping into the sector's ability to influence wider business practices and policies, seafood stakeholders have a chance to catalyze much greater mitigation of climate change. Leveraging this ripple effect is perhaps the industry's greatest opportunity-and, given that time is of the essence, its greatest challenge. Tackling climate change and ocean acidification allows members of this industry to take a proactive role in protecting their businesses and way of life.
Species Migration

As climate change is warming the atmosphere, it is also warming the ocean; in fact, most of the extra heat in the atmospheric system is in the ocean. As with the atmosphere, each area of the ocean will be impacted differently. One repercussion of this warming is species migration. Many species have specific temperature requirements and thus will be forced to abandon their natural habitat as they seek more tolerable temperatures. Other species may have greater tolerance for temperature change, but if their food sources either migrate or become scarce as a result of such changes in temperature, these species will migrate to find a new food supply.
 
While species migration may not appear to be a serious issue, it will have significant impacts not only on the ocean but also on the seafood industry. Effects of species migration could include:
   Species Dominance-Migration of species into different areas will alter food webs in unpredictable ways and lead to changes in species dominance.
   Fish Depletion-Some regions, especially in the tropics, may no longer be able to support the quantity and variety of species they currently support because waters have warmed too much.
   Range shifts-Fish will be found in different places from where they currently live, meaning the corresponding fisheries will shift also, possibly out of the territorial waters of the countries where they are now located.
   Extinction-Inevitably some species will fail to adapt and become extinct; this is a particular concern for cold-water species, as well as species that are unable to adapt because of habitat or food supply constraints.
 
The warming of the oceans will have many significant impacts on fish populations, species migration included. Due to the complex nature of ecosystems, it's difficult to predict exactly how an individual species will react to these habitat changes and, inevitably, some species will fail to cope with the changes.
 
References:
1. Turley, C, Findlay, HS, Mangi, S, Ridgwell, A and Schmidt, DN. "Non-Native Species in Marine Climate Change Ecosystem Linkages Report Card 2009." Online Science Reveiws. 2009. http://www.mccip.org.uk/elr/non-natives/default.htm
2. Turley, C, Findlay, HS, Mangi, S, Ridgwell, A and Schmidt, DN. "A View From Above in Marine Climate Change Ecosystem Linkages Report Card 2009." Online Science Reveiws. 2009. http://www.mccip.org.uk/elr/view/default.htm

Invasive Species

With 10/09 Afishy_Lionfishincreased maritime activity, the introduction of non-native species has become more common. The majority of species introductions happen accidentally, in ballast water or as aquaculture escapees, to cite two examples. A non-native species is considered invasive when it spreads rapidly, disrupts the natural ecosystem, causes environmental or economic harm or presents a human health hazard. Evidence is beginning to show that climate change is making environments more suitable for non-native species, allowing them to establish in these areas, increase in abundance and become invasive.
 
Climate change offers non-native species several pathways to become invasive or increase the potential for invasiveness. These include:
   Temperate species to spread into new areas.
   Trans-arctic migration of species because of decreased sea ice.
   Non-native species, which are already present, to increase in productivity where they were previously limited by seasonally unfavorable conditions
An example of a non-native species introduction likely due to climate change can be seen with the Mauve Stinger, Pelagia nocticula. These jellyfish are increasingly common in British waters, where a massive swarm killed approximately 100,000 salmon at a farm in Northern Ireland in 2008.  There are also increasing numbers of jellies in the Sea of Japan, causing fishermen countless troubles and it is thought that climate change is at least partly to blame. As climate change intensifies, the opportunities for invasive species to flourish will increase, causing irreparable harm to the environment, maritime economy and health of coastal communities.
 
Reference:
Turley, C, Findlay, HS, Mangi, S, Ridgwell, A and Schmidt, DN. "Non-Native Species in Marine Climate Change Ecosystem Linkages Report Card 2009." Online Science Reveiws. 2009. www.mccip.org.uk/elr/acidification

Photo credit: George Cathcart/Marine Photobank
 Ocean Acidification

The ocean acts as a regulator for carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, absorbing the excess and thus moderating the effects of climate change. However, when CO2 dissolves in the ocean, it reacts with water to form carbonic acid, which then separates into hydrogen ions and bicarbonate ions. This increase in hydrogen ions causes the pH of the ocean to decrease, thus becoming more acidic.
 
afishiando header 2A 2009 report from the UK's Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) indicates that acidification could reduce the growth and survival of marine life and reduce marine animals ability to make shells and skeletons (calcification). Some studies have forecast that ocean water will become corrosive to organisms between 2050 and 2100. These impacts, particularly when combined with climate-induced range shifts of commercial fish stocks, could affect commercial fishing and aquaculture (particularly shellfish) productivity. The MCCIP report estimates that ocean acidification will reduce shellfish growth rates 10 to 25 percent by 2050. This would result in a reduction of UK shellfish landings equating to a financial loss of 24.4 to 61 million per year (based on 2006 Defra figures) and potentially 1,000 to 3,000 jobs lost. Implications such as these could also similarly affect shellfish aquaculture.

Reference:
European Project on Ocean Acidification. "What is Ocean Acidification?" Online. http://www.epoca-project.eu/index.php/What-is-ocean-acidification.html
Photo credit: Jessica King/Marine Photobank

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