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Climate Change

Seafood industry could be devastated by climate change

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cooking seafood in a restaurant

By Joe Morgan via SWNS

Regularly eating your favorite seafood could be a thing of the past if action is not taken to mitigate climate change, new research warns.

Farmed seafood is projected to drop 16 percent globally if fossil fuels are burned at the current rate, according to the study.

Researchers say that relying on ocean-farmed seafood as an alternative to the problems of depleted stocks of wild fish is a myth and the farmed seafood industry is vulnerable to climate change.

Large fishing countries like Norway, the Netherlands, China and Bangladesh could see mariculture production decline by as much as 90 percent by 2090.

But if action is taken to mitigate climate change, producing fish for human consumption could actually increase massively by the end of the century.

In a model taking into account changing ocean temperatures and the supply of fishmeal and fish oil, with mitigated climate change mariculture could grow by 17 percent by the mid-21st century and by about a third by the end of the century.

The study also found if fish farmers substituted just a quarter of the fishmeal and fish oil for plant-based foods such as soybeans, it could also alleviate the effects of climate change and increase production.

Aerial drone photo of large fish farming unit of sea bass and sea bream in growing cages in calm deep waters of Galaxidi area, Greece
Aerial drone photo of large fish farming unit of sea bass and sea bream in growing cages (Shutterstock)

With no change to current emissions, when a quarter of the fish food was substituted with alternatives, mariculture production was projected to increase by 15 percent by 2050 and four percent by 2090.

When half the food was substituted in both climate scenarios, these percentages increased.

Dr. Muhammed Oyinlola, at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, said: "If we continue to burn fossil fuels at our current rate, the amount of seafood such as fish or mussels able to be farmed sustainably will increase by only eight percent by 2050, and decline by 16 percent by 2090.

“In regions that produce more finfish, such as salmon, the impact will be high due to reduction in the supply of fishmeal and fish oil.”

A giant clam farm in Palau, one example of mariculture (Via SWNS)

Dr. William Cheung, director of Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, said: “This study highlights the need to diversify mariculture development from the current focus on fish

“Climate change affects everything, including aspects of seafood farming we’ve not previously considered.

"We need to act, and quickly, to mitigate climate change rather than rely on one solution to solve all our seafood production problems.”

The study was published in the journal Global Change Biology.

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