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The need for research on ocean acidification and fisheries Seafood industry perspectives Testimony of Brad Warren Sustainable Fisheries Partnership June.

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Presentation on theme: "The need for research on ocean acidification and fisheries Seafood industry perspectives Testimony of Brad Warren Sustainable Fisheries Partnership June."— Presentation transcript:

1 The need for research on ocean acidification and fisheries Seafood industry perspectives Testimony of Brad Warren Sustainable Fisheries Partnership June 5, 2008

2 Thank you! It’s an honor to be here, heartening to see this problem drawing real attention. I think the scientists who are here today deserve medals for bringing this light. Early warning reveals a key: we are the first generation in history that has a chance against such a huge problem.

3 Personal background & interest 25 years as journalist and consultant working in fisheries & oceans Was editor of Pacific Fishing Magazine for eight years Built the Productive Oceans Partnership, a program of SFP, because acidification looks to be an overriding challenge to the future of oceans and fisheries. I believe the seafood industry will play a key role defending the ocean that feeds us from effects of excessive CO 2 concentrations.

4 Disclaimers We advise but do not represent industry. Most listen, some agree, some don’t. Many now view acidification as a major concern. One seafood exec on acidification: “This is indisputable. We’ve got to deal with this.”

5 Our view on emissions and research policy We support emissions-reduction policies in the U.S. and globally Support national investment in research to understand ocean acidification impacts —so that fisheries can be managed as the ocean changes, not just shut down. Acidification is a more clear-cut problem for fisheries than warming.

6 Initial impacts of acidification for industry A new source of uncertainty: - in fishery productivity; - in financial planning.

7 Potential acidification impacts on seafood industry Risk of reduced productivity of fish stocks. - Diminished plankton productivity ===> fewer fish Risk of “panic button” management: –“The ocean is changing, you can’t explain how, so shut down fisheries now.”

8 Seafood: Canary in the Coalmine? “The North Pacific is the most likely place for this to show up first and if it does show up it’s going to be very,very significant impact on fisheries of the North Pacific. It could potentially eliminate a lot of them.” —Joe Childers, salmon troller, president of United Fishermen of Alaska Similar concerns arising in other regions too.

9 Shellfish farmers Hypoxia (attributed to GHG emissions): “… the current situation puts both the marine eco-system and shellfish growers in extreme jeopardy … Acidification: “ This acidity dissolves calcium carbonate, the stuff that shells are made of. If ditoms, corals and shellfish succumb to this, it might collapse not only the shellfish industry, but also the entire marine food chain. ” —Brett Bishop, Little Skookum Shellfish, representing Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Assoc.. From May 27, 2008 testimony to Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee, referring to effects of climate change/dead zone/acidification.

10 Fishery impacts of acidification: important, but poorly understood Research is urgently needed. Delay will leave industry exposed to sudden shocks. Without expanded data and ecosystem modeling, fisheries could become much harder to manage. Worst case: decline or outright collapse. Best case: manage change by understanding effects on fisheries and underlying ecosystems.

11 Will plankton impacts of GHGs curtail fisheries? Source: Marine Ecology Progress Series, Vol 332: 9-16, Dec. 20, 2007

12 Greenland turbot Could future fish stock response look like this? Source: stock assessment, BSAI Greenland turbot, NMFS Lightly fished: 2007 harvest rate: 1.8% of biomass

13 Industry perspectives on FOARAM Leaders support the concept: the need for research is clear and urgent. BUT: Concern about potential for “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” Regular fish-stock surveys are critical to manage fisheries. Cutting surveys might also jeopardize early detection of impacts from acidification. Even under budget constraints, both are needed.


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