Sunday, July 22, 2018 | ePaper

Climate change poised to transform marine, freshwater ecosystems

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New analysis and modelling and more than 100 collaborating scientists projects that by 2050, climate change will have altered the productivity of many of the planet's marine and freshwater fisheries, affecting the livelihoods of millions of the world's poorest people.
The analysis and modelling report was released by FAO at its headquarters in Rome on Tuesday, according to a FAO news release received here.
While the productive potential of fisheries in exclusive marine economic zones (EEZs) - those 200-mile wide swathes of land-adjacent ocean territory that every coastal nation has special rights to exploit - could decline less than 12 percent on average, this masks more significant fluctuations of productive potential at regional level, models suggest.
The planet's critical but often-overlooked inland water systems - which include five of the world's least-developed countries among its top 10 fish producers and provides 11.6 million tonnes of food for human consumption each year - will also be affected, the report says.
These impacts are linked to changes in water temperature and pH levels, shifts in ocean circulation patterns, rising sea levels and altered rainfall and storm patterns causing species to change their distributions and productivity, corals to bleach, and aquatic diseases to become more common, among others.
The projections appear in a sweeping 654-page collection of global, regional and national analysis and information released by FAO, which represents the most comprehensive publication on climate change and fisheries ever assembled.
Impacts of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture: Synthesis of current knowledge, adaptation and mitigation options includes both new research as well as unique synthesis of the most current scientific information on how a changing climate is altering the world's oceans, lakes and rivers and reshaping the lives of the communities who rely on them.
A series of case-studies focuses on challenges - as well as adaptation solutions already being explored - in 13 major marine areas ranging from the Arctic to the Mediterranean.
And key chapter provides adaptation toolboxes and options to help countries cope - in ways that will also allow them to meet their adaptation commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement.
If appropriately implemented, the impacts of climate change can be minimised, the report says.
Speaking at the report's launch, FAO Director-General Jos, Graziano da Silva appealed to the international community to provide adequate support to help countries adapt.
In particular, he urged governments on the board of the UN's Green Climate Fund to resolve their disagreements over funding.
The failure of the board during its meeting last week to agree on any big-ticket decisions, and in particular on the replenishment of the fund, means it could run dry next year, the FAO Director-General said.
"We are running the risk of having the most powerful element of the Paris Climate Agreement completely exhausted," he warned.
"When we signed the Paris Agreement, it was a sina qua non condition that if we don't help poorer countries to adapt then we will not be successful in implementing the agreement," added Graziano da Silva.

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