Climate Change and the Oceans: Consequences for Fisheries
Dr Manuel Barange

Dr Manuel Barange, Director, Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy and Resources Division, UN – Food and Agriculture Organization

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Figure 2: About FOA
Figure 3: The real challenge

It is important to remember, that fish is food. Annually, the seafood industry provides on average 20.3 kg. of fish per person. This is double the rate per capita that we had in the 1960s. Fish is the food of particular importance to the poor and the hungry. On the top 30 countries that depend on fisheries the most, half of them come from what we classify as low food and low-income countries. 

Figure 4: A brief history of “fish” production

FAO was established in 1945 for one reason only – at that time the expert opinion was that it was not possible to feed a world of three billion people. Now we are looking at the challenge of feeding 9-10 billion people. The challenge is the same, but the numbers have changed. The reality is that we have about 821 million people that are undernourished (according to figures from 2017). Hunger has been rising since 2015 for two reasons, political instability and climate changes.

Figure 5: Fish is crucial for nutrition

Fish is crucial for nutrition, especially in Africa, Asia and Oceania. The slide shows the Protein intake of Fish & seafood (g/capita/day).

Parallel to fish production, we can look at what we call the nutrition transition. From 1960-2013, world population has grown about 1,5% per year. At the same time, animal protein consumption has grown about 2,5% per year. Fish consumption has grown at 3% per year, twice the population rate.

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The slide shows the estimates and the outlook for marine temperature.

Figure 8: Global maximum fish catch potential

The slide shows projected changes in the total animal biomass and the projected changes in maximum fisheries catch potential. Changes are both due to distributional shifts and production changes.

Figure 9: Understanding Catch Potential and Realized Catch

The brown and yellow colours show regions of the world with decreasing catch potential, while the blue and purple show areas with increasing catch potential. However, we have to keep in mind that there is a difference in catch potential and realized catch.

Figure 10: Projected movement of species
Figure 11: Changes in catching
Figure 12: Adapting for Success

Climate change is already having an influence on fisheries. We need to adapt to changes in a responsible manner.

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Adapting to Production and Distributional changes can result in Biomass, Harvest and Profit growth. Effective and timely Adaptation can have very positive results.

Figure 14 – Take-home messages

We live in a world dominated by fear – fear of the future, fear of climate change, fear of war, fear of trade wars. When our minds are occupied by fear, there is little room for information. We all need to fight this.

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