U.N. says world fisheries face
February 22, 2008
MONACO (Reuters) - A deadly combination of climate change,
over-fishing and pollution could cause the collapse of commercial
fish stocks worldwide within decades, said Achim Steiner, head of
the United Nations Environment Program.
"You overlap all of this and you see you're potentially putting a
death nail in the coffin of world fisheries," Steiner told
reporters on Friday on the fringes of a climate conference
involving more than 150 nations and 100 environment ministers.
Some 2.6 billion people worldwide depend on fish for protein, said
a UNEP report "In Dead Water" published on Friday.
Climate change has compounded previous problems such as
over-fishing, as rising temperatures kill coral reefs, threaten
tuna spawning grounds, and shift ocean currents and with them the
plankton and small fish which underpin ocean food chains.
"The question is not whether we should stop fishing but to address
climate change, which is creating a degree of impact we've not
seen before," said lead author of the UNEP report, Christian
"We are getting more and more alarming signals of dramatic changes
in the oceans. The recovery from the changes we're making will
probably take a million years."
The report found the most affected areas included those
responsible for half the world's fish catch.
A slowing of ocean currents as a result of climate change may over
the next 100 years interrupt the transport of nutrients to the
most valuable coastal fishing zones, and the flushing away of
In other impacts, Nellemann said he expected more than 50 percent
of coral reefs to die by 2050 as a result of rising temperatures,
with resulting impacts on tourism.
Carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels create an acid when
dissolved in water, and could over the coming decades make the sea
more acidic than at any time in the past 65 million years, and by
2100 could prevent mollusks in some seas from forming shells.