6 Sept 2019 - Ending overfishing would not only secure vital fish populations for the future, but constitutes a significant climate emergency action, according to the latest report. According to Our Fish, the report's findings offer EU governments a realistic opportunity to deliver immediate and effective action on dangerous climate change, as well as meeting their legal obligations to finally quit overfishing.
The working paper, Ending Overfishing Can Mitigate Impacts of Climate Change, by Dr. Rashid Sumaila and Dr. Travis Tai of the University of British Columbia, finds that "overfishing and climate change are not mutually exclusive problems to be addressed separately," as both are severely impacting ocean health, and putting marine ecosystems and the goods and services they provide to communities at risk. Ending overfishing would give the ocean respite from human pressure, making it more resilient to the effects of the climate crisis, while helping to restore critically valuable marine ecosystems, says the paper.
"A healthy person is more likely to survive an epidemic than a person who is less healthy, and because of overfishing we have severely weakened the ocean's immune system" said Dr. Sumaila. "Ending overfishing now would strengthen the ocean, making it more capable of withstanding climate change and restoring marine ecosystems". Dr. Sumaila is in Brussels this week to brief EU policymakers on how ending overfishing in EU waters supports EU commitments to taking climate action.
The working paper finds that:
- Overfishing and climate change are two of the biggest stressors on ocean health, including to marine ecosystems, biodiversity and fisheries;
- Recent estimates suggest that at least 40% of fish stocks in the North East Atlantic and 87% in the Mediterranean and Black Seas are currently subject to unsustainable fishing practices, including stocks that are overfished or exploited at an unsustainable rate ;
- The onset of rapid climate-related changes in marine ecosystems will increase pressure on fish populations, with the potential of extinction for some species;
- Decisive action is critical to ensure the long-term sustainability of marine ecosystems and fisheries;
- Due to the current inefficiencies that result in catching more fish than nature can generate, improvements in fisheries management to achieve MSY would not only increase long-term catch, but actually offset some of the negative effects of climate change on catches;
- Implementation of strategies to increase resilience has been found to help with recovery from extreme climate impacts; overfishing and climate change are not mutually exclusive problems to be addressed separately, and holistic comprehensive solutions must be found to address these two global challenges.