What the Paris Agreement Can Do For Our Fish Stock

In recent decades, our planet’s temperature has been rising, bringing with it some pretty disastrous consequences. Sea levels rise and species of marine wildlife have been dislocated. Climate change is expected to force fish and other species to migrate toward cooler waters. The sheer number of species of fish caught in different parts of the world will impact local fishers where such species are usually found. This will make fishery management to become increasingly difficult as the temperatures continue to rise.

Thomas Frölicher, a principal investigator at the Nippon Foundation-Nereus Program and senior scientist at ETH Zürich, has said that changes in ocean conditions that affect fish stocks, like temperature and oxygen concentration, are primarily related to atmospheric warming and carbon emissions. He also stated that for every metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere, the maximum catch potential decreases by a significant amount.

This is a crucial point that should come up whenever the Paris Agreement is discussed. The Paris Agreement is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) concerning greenhouse gases emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance starting in the year 2020. If countries abide by the Paris Agreement global warming target of 1.5 degrees Celsius, our fish stock and fish catches could increase by six million metric tons per year.

Studies wherein the Paris Agreement 1.5C scenario was compared to the currently pledged 3.5C found the simulated changes to be quite drastic. The results showed that for every degree Celsius decrease in global warming, the potential fish catches all around the world could increase more than three metric million tons per year. Previous researches reflected that today’s global fish catch is roughly 110 million metric tons. So obviously, we can only gain by doing solid actions to insure this goal now.

Initial studies regarding the Paris Agreement suggest that the Indo-Pacific area will more than likely see a 40% increase in fishery catches at a 1.5C warming rather than at 3.5C. The Arctic region would have a greater influx of fish under the 3.5C scenario but will lose more sea ice and face pressure to expand fisheries.

The sheer number of the projected yield should ideally be more than enough incentive for countries and the private sector to substantially increase their commitments and actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We all need to work on this together—if even just one country opts out of the Paris Agreement, there will be a clear reduction of the otherwise global positive effects we should all be getting.

Our population is only climbing higher and we’re running out of resources to reasonably sustain us all. Some oceans are more sensitive to changes in temperature and will have substantially larger gains from the Paris Agreement. Tropical areas are among the places where in the most yield increase will be felt. This is quite a significant point for them to consider given that tropical areas are those who are highly dependent on fisheries for food and livelihood.

If we want to continue to enjoy living on this blue globe of ours as the dominant species, we need to ensure that our descendants should have their share of continued food and fair temperature.

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