Achieving the Paris Agreement global warming target could protect millions of tonnes in worldwide fisheries catch, as well as billions of dollars of annual revenues, a study has found. The study, published in the journal Science Advances, compared the ecosystem and economic impacts of the Paris Agreement warming scenario of 1.5 degrees Celsius to the current “business as usual” 3.5 degrees Celsius warming scenario. The researchers concluded that achieving the Paris Agreement would result in benefits for 75 per cent of maritime countries, with the largest gains being made in developing countries. “Achieving the Agreement’s target could increase global fishers’ revenues by USD 4.6 billion annually, seafood workers’ income by USD 3.7 billion, and reduce household seafood expenditures by USD 5.4 billion,” said Rashid Sumaila, from University of British Columbia in Canada.
“The largest gains will occur in developing country waters, such as Kiribati, the Maldives and Indonesia, which are at greatest risks due to warming temperatures and rely the most on fish for food security, incomes and employment,” said Sumaila. The study also found that under the Paris Agreement scenario, the total mass, or biomass, of the top revenue generating fish species would increase globally by 6.5 per cent, with an average increase of 8.4 per cent in the waters of developing countries and a marginal decrease of 0.4 per cent in the waters of developed countries. “Larger fish biomass and higher ocean productivity means higher catch potential, so with the exception of Europe, all continents will benefit from the Paris Agreement,” said Travis Tai, PhD candidate in the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries.
“Countries in places like northern Europe, on the other hand, stand to gain more fish as they move towards the poles in search of colder waters under global warming. They will gain less if we limit warming, but in many cases, the losses are buffered by increases in fish prices,” Tai said. The marine fisheries sector supports approximately 260 million full and part-time jobs worldwide, many of these in large developing countries, and seafood products remain a critical export commodity for many developing countries.
“A steady supply of fish is essential to support these jobs, food sovereignty, and human well-being,” said Sumaila. “Adapting to existing climate change effects and implementing the Paris Agreement is crucial for the future of the planet’s ocean fisheries, while facing the growing challenges of supporting healthy and peaceful societies into the future,” he said.