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Climate change forces 45% of fish stocks to change by 2100: study

As climate change accelerates and oceans warm, it could have a huge impact on the fishing industry, as fish populations move from one country’s waters to another, according to a new Canadian study. .

In a study published Tuesday in the journal Global Change Biology, researchers at the University of British Columbia found that 45 percent of fish stocks that have crossed two or more exclusive economic zones will be transformed. climate forces to change their migratory patterns by 2100.

And 23% of these schools will change their habitat range by 2030.

The researchers warned in a press release that this could cause future international conflicts.

“It’s not just a matter of stocks leaving or coming [exclusive economic zones], said lead author, Dr. Juliano Palacios-Abrantes, who carried out the study at UBC’s Institute of Oceans and Fisheries (IOF).

“We will see even more dramatic changes in 2030 and beyond, given current emissions rates. Many fisheries management agreements made to regulate common stocks were established in previous decades, with rules that apply to a world situation unlike today’.

School of fish is a term for subpopulations within a species – for example, a group of salmon that have been following the same migration path for many years and passed it on to the newly born fish in that group as a group. different fish.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, enacted in 1982, stipulates which countries have rights to specific waters around them, known as exclusive economic zones (EEZs).

Canada’s special economic zone is the seventh largest special economic zone in the world. A special economic zone means that the country in question has exclusive rights to use the resources in those waters, including wind or water energy production, as well as fishing and exploration rights.

However, fish do not know if they are swimming through international waters or a country’s exclusive economic zone, and if the waters in which they have lived for generations become uninhabitable because of climate change, they will swim away. So what if a country’s fishing industry has relied on a certain species for decades, and then that species moves to a neighboring country with cooler waters?

There may be stress, the researchers warn.

During the 1980s and ’90s, the release explained, changes in salmon supplies caused conflict between the US and Canada, contributing to salmon overfishing in the areas mentioned.

The UBC study tracked more than 9,000 transboundary fish stocks, accounting for 80% of catches from EEZs worldwide. They started tracking in 2006, and looked at how climate change changed their movements, extrapolating how they might change even further through 2100 based on the current evolution of the planet. Climate Change.

While tropical waters will be the first to be affected by migratory fish, that doesn’t mean the northern waters can be rested. Research shows that 10 shares of Canadian and US Pacific shares could change by 2033, according to projections.

“By providing estimates of the scale and timing of projected changes, our study provides tangible reference points for looking at climate change impacts and negotiating policies.” fair book for sustainable management,” Dr. Colette Wabnitz, lead scientist at Stanford’s Center for Ocean Solutions and co-author of the study, said in the release.

For a change of the times, the researchers suggest, countries could think about formulating new agreements regarding EEZ rights, such as allowing other countries to fish for resources. specific supply in their waters if they offer a share of the profits. Existing arrangements regarding mining quotas may also have to be reviewed.

“We have to accept that climate change is happening, and then move fast enough to regulate occupations,” said Dr. Gabriel Reygondeau, co-author and a research associate at the IOF. fish to solve this problem.

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