Pedersen: Fish migration set to be a key issue – Fishupdate.com

Pedersen: Fish migration set to be a key issue Published:  18 April, 2008

Helga Pedersen: Changes in fish stocks’ migration patterns are likely to become major issue

CHANGES in fish migration patterns are likely to become a major fish policy issue, Norway’s fisheries minister has predicted, given that increasing stocks and migration of species to new areas are among the consequences climate change is expected to have for fish in the sea.

While the general consensus is that global warming will disturb marine eco-systems, researchers are less certain about the scope of the consequences, it emerged from a conference in Bergen, Norway, held yesterday.

Just over a hundred delegates from the Nordic Region, the EU and Russia attended the conference and discussed the potential consequences of climate change for fish stocks and fisheries management.

“Cod stocks in the north-east Atlantic will probably grow and expand in a northerly direction, for example. But we don’t know to what extent,” stressed Dr Randvi Ingvaldsen of the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research.

In general, warmer water will lead to larger fish stocks, but at the same time a number of species run the risk of being wiped out in certain areas. On the other hand, fish species will be able to migrate to new areas as the water temperature rises.

“This might, for example, mean anchovies and swordfish in the Baltic,” said Professor Brian MacKenzie of the Danish National Institute of Aquatic Resources.

“Levels of salt content will also be important in the Baltic, as well as climate change,” MacKenzie reminded delegates. If the salt content falls further, cod in particular will find it difficult to survive.

“Changes in fish stocks’ migration patterns are likely to become a major fisheries-policy issue,” predicted Helga Pedersen, the Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs.

The current agreements about the geographic distribution of fishery rights between nations will probably have to be revised, which many believe will be a difficult process.

The Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, Halldór Ásgrímsson, stressed the importance of a Nordic approach and of closer co-operation with the EU on this issue.

“It is, of course, also important that major fishing nations like Russia and the USA commit to the process,” said Ásgrímsson, one of the keynote speakers.

The fishery and climate conference was organised by the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research in conjunction with the Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, the Nordic Council of Ministers and the EU Commission.

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