The risks of global warming on land and at sea
FAO predicts an “ocean of change” for coral reefs, Antarctic krill, the fishing industry, fish farms and for the 400 million poorest coastal inhabitants.
The FAO has issued a gloomy forecast for the fishing industry and fish farms in view of the rising sea temperatures. There are five problem areas:
1. The 400 million poorest people of the 520 million people living in coastal areas depend on the fishing industry. For them, FAO predictions in the light of climate change are quite disheartening. For more than 50% of their protein intake, the inhabitants of many small islands depend on the fishing industry and fish farms. The food supply of island fishermen, 90% of whom live in Asia and Africa, is threatened not only by global warming (fish seeking a different habitat), but also by overfishing on their coasts by and for other, richer countries.
2. Highly pollutant fish farms, now mainly found on river deltas, will increasingly be found higher up on the rivers in the future. From that location, they will pollute the entire river and delta farms.
3. Most fish are coldblooded. Small changes in temperature can have baleful consequences because their oxygen supply severely decreases at higher temperatures. Many fish will seek other, colder areas; a movement to colder regions is to be expected. The rising temperature also has consequences for their reproduction, the age at which they become sexually mature and the number of eggs laid.
4. The Antarctic krill population, having seen an average decrease per decade of 30 to 75 per cent since 1976 as a result of overfishing and rising sea temperatures, will continue to decline and thus severely threaten the food supply of whales, penguins and seals.
5. Coral reefs will increasingly be at risk. Nevertheless, at least 25% of the ocean fish stocks depend on corals for their spawning grounds.