Ocean acidification and warming waters threaten future of U.S. fisheries

• May 6, 2013
ocean acidification

Climate change and ocean acidification pose a serious threat to U.S. fisheries. Creative Commons: Derek Keats, 2011

Ocean acidification and climate change are among the top long-term threats to fisheries to be discussed this week at a conference on U.S. fishing policy. These issues should be considered as part of an ecosystem-based approach to protecting marine life, as outlined in a report on the state of U.S. fisheries released in advance of the conference by Pew Charitable Trusts and the Ocean Conservancy.

The report praises current fishing policy for effectively implementing catch limits and rebuilding fish populations. New threats, however, could cause these achievements to backslide.

Chris Dorsett, director of the Ocean Conservancy’s fish conservation and gulf restoration program, said:

What we need to pay greater attention to is a changing world and a changing climate and what repercussions that will have.

Increasing carbon emissions are responsible for warming waters in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Speaking to the Washington Post, Lee Crockett, head of Pew’s U.S. fisheries campaign, said that North Atlantic waters last summer were the warmest in 159 years of record-keeping.

Off the coast of Maine, lobsters are molting six weeks to two months earlier than normal, and blue crabs, a Mid-Atlantic shellfish, have been found in New England waters as they and other sea life move toward Earth’s poles to escape warmer seas.

Rising emissions of carbon dioxide are also responsible for a 30% increase in ocean acidity since pre-industrial times. Increasing amounts of carbon in the water lowers the water’s pH and causes it to eat away at protective shells and the bony structures of coral, said Dorsett.

Read more: The Washington Post>>

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TckTckTck is the online hub for the Global Call for Climate Action. The GCCA represents an unprecedented alliance of more than 400 nonprofit organizations from around the world. Our shared mission is to mobilize civil society and galvanize public support to ensure a safe climate future for people and nature, to promote the low-carbon transition of our economies, and to accelerate the adaptation efforts in communities already affected by climate change.

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