Fish farms in front of global climate change

Mariculture (farming of marine species) is often seen as a panacea for the problems of depleting wild stocks of fish and other marine animals suitable for food consumption, a problem that stems in part from the growing human demand for seafood, a demand that is expected to grow substantially in the coming years.

However, the results of a recent study by Muhammed Oyinlola’s team at the University of British Columbia in Canada indicate that the mariculture sector is as vulnerable to the effects of climate change as any other.

If we continue to burn fossil fuels at the current rate and foul the atmosphere with gas emissions from such combustion, sustainable seafood production in fish farms will increase by only 8% by 2050, and decrease by 16% by 2090.

In a scenario in which measures are taken to mitigate climate change and consequently have low emissions, mariculture will grow by about 17% by the middle of the 21st century and by about 33% by the end of the century, compared to the situation in the 2000s.

For the new study, many factors have been taken into account, such as changing ocean temperatures or suitable mariculture areas in the future.

The authors of the study examined approximately 70% of the 2015 global mariculture production, focusing on areas where most of the world’s seafood farming occurs.

Climate change will affect mariculture productivity differently depending on where in the world the fish farms are located and what type of product they produce. The regions most affected in the high emissions scenario (Norway, Myanmar, Bangladesh, the Netherlands and China) could see their mariculture productivity reduced by 40% to 90%.

The study is entitled ‘Projecting global mariculture production and adaptation pathways under climate change’. It has been published in the academic journal Global Change Biology.


Article Author Gerluxe Image: stockholmresilience