Warm water fish species now more commonplace, says climate report Published: 29 November, 2006
A REPORT highlighting just how far climate change has already impacted the United Kingdom’s marine environment, and what might happen in the future, is published today.
Following-on from the publication of the Stern Report, which documented the economic case for tackling climate change, the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) has produced a new ‘Annual Report Card’ (ARC) focusing on the marine environment.
On fisheries, the report says that warm-water commercial species such as sea bass, red mullet and tuna are becoming more commonplace in our seas.
Cold-water species, such as cod, have declined, with a possible link suggested between warmer sea temperatures and reduced populations of fish at the southern limit of their distribution range.
Fishing remains the main pressure on commercial fish stocks.
A continued decline in abundance and northward retreat in distribution of commercial cold-water species is forecast.
Meanwhile changes to ocean circulation might affect movement of young fish from spawning grounds to nursery areas.
New species might become available for commercial exploitation.
The report card strongly suggests that marine climate change will have important consequences for all elements of our marine environment, with significant impacts on the biological diversity, cleanliness and safety, and commercial productivity of our seas.
Speaking on behalf of the Government and Devolved Administrations, Climate Change Minister, Ian Pearson, said:
“Climate change is the biggest environmental issue the world faces, on land and at sea. Our seas play a vital role in shaping and regulating our climate and have a tremendous bearing on our future wellbeing.
“Rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification and melting polar ice are not just predictions, they are happening now.
“This Report Card contains some disturbing facts, showing that climate change is already having a noticeable impact on marine species from plankton to seabirds.
“There is a lot we still do not understand about the impact climate change will have on our oceans.”
But the Report Card provided “at a glance” the latest scientific knowledge which will improve our understanding of the issues involved.
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