Warning: Climate Change Threatens Mass Extinction of Life in Pacific
November 20, 2017
Sydney Pereira / Newsweek & Mac Slavo / SHTFPlan.com
According to an alarming study published in the Nippon Foundation-Nereus Program in Marine Policy, Pacific Island nations -- surrounded by the warmest waters of the global ocean -- are expected to lose 50 to 80 percent of fish species by the end of the century. Meanwhile, the Gulf of Alaska cod populations appear to have taken a nose-dive -- the "worst they've ever seen." The warming water, which has spread to depths of more than 1,000 feet, "hit the cod like a kind of a double-whammy."
Pacific Threat: 80 Percent of Fish
Set to Be Wiped Out as Ocean Temperatures Surge
Sydney Pereira / Newsweek
(November 18, 2017) -- Pacific Island nations are expected to lose 50 to 80 percent of fish species by the end of the century.
The alarming number was published in a study by the Nippon Foundation-Nereus Program in Marine Policy. The oceans in the Pacific Islands in particular, according to the study, are expected to be the most severely affected by climate change in the next century. These waters are already the warmest of the global ocean, and with less seasonal variability, animals in this area may be more shocked by changing conditions.
"Under climate change, the Pacific Islands region is projected to become warmer, less oxygenated, more acidic, and have lower production of plankton that form the base of oceanic food webs," Rebecca Asch, lead author of the study and assistant professor of in the biology department at East Carolina University, said in a statement.
"We found that local extinction of marine species exceed 50 percent of current biodiversity levels across many regions and at times reached levels over 80 percent."
People who live in the Pacific are dependent upon these species for food and livelihoods, the authors wrote. Across most of the region, fish constitute more than 20 percent of the animal protein people consume -- and in some countries, it's as high as 50 percent.
The fishing industry in the Pacific could also be decimated, as well as small-scale fisheries and subsistence fishing. Tuna licenses sold to other countries make up to 60 percent of tax revenue for some countries and territories. Travel and tourism -- greatly influenced by unique fish species -- make up 12 to 13 percent of the GDP in Oceania.
"The socio-economic vulnerability of the region to marine climate change impacts is also underscored by the fact that the capacity of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the tropical Pacific to adapt to or mitigate climate change impacts may be lower than that of developed countries," the authors wrote in the study.
"Additional warming will push ocean temperature beyond conditions that organisms have not experienced sine geological time periods in this region," co-author Gabriel Reygondeau, Nereus Fellow at the University of British Columbia, said in a statement.
"Since no organisms living in the ocean today could have time to adapt to these warmer conditions, many will either go extinct or migrate away from the western Pacific, leaving this area with much lower biodiversity."
The study calculated that 80 percent of marine species would die or migrate elsewhere if Pacific Island countries and territories experience a 3 to 4 degrees Celsius increase in sea surface temperature by the end of the century.
Massive drop-offs of marine species could also be curbed with immediate changes in greenhouse gas emissions, which would reduce how high sea surface temperatures could rise.
Nearly 200 countries have been meeting in Bonn, Germany, for a global climate change conference to discuss how to implement the standards set in the 2015 Paris Agreement. The authors noted that achieving those goals would greatly reduce how many species are expected to be wiped out in the Pacific.
"As a result," co-author William Cheung, director of science at the Nereus Program, said in a statement, "these changes in oceanic conditions are not inevitable, but instead depend on the immediate actions of all countries to materialize their commitment to limit greenhouse gas emissions as is being discussed in COP23 in Bonn, Germany this week."
Scientists Shocked As Fisheries Collapse
On West Coast: 'It's The Worst We've Seen"
Mac Slavo / SHTFPlan.com
(November 13, 2017) -- The Gulf of Alaska cod populations appears to have taken a nose-dive. Scientists are shocked at the collapse and starving fish, making this the "worst they've ever seen."
"They [Alaskan cod] get weak and die or get eaten by something else," said NOAA's Steve Barbeaux. The 2017 trawl net survey found the lowest numbers of cod on record forcing scientists to try to unravel what happened.
A lot of the cod hatched in 2012 appeared to survive, but by 2017, those fish were largely gone for the surveys, which also found scant evidence of fish born in subsequent years. Many of the cod that have come on board trawlers are "long skinny fish" according to Brent Paine, executive director of United Catcher Boats.
"This is a big deal," Paine said. "We just don't see these (cod) year classes disappear from one year to the next." The decline is expected to substantially reduce the gulf cod harvests that in recent years have been worth -- before processing -- more than $50 million to Northwest and Alaska fishermen who catch them with nets, pot traps, and baited hooks set along the sea bottom.
Barbeaux says the warm water, which has spread to depths of more than 1,000 feet, hit the cod like a kind of a double-whammy. Higher temperatures sped up the rate at which young cod burned calories while reducing the food available for the cod to consume. And many are blaming "climate change" for the effects on the fish, although scientists aren't directly correlating the two events.
"They get weak and die or get eaten by something else," said Barbeaux, who in October presented preliminary survey findings to scientists and industry officials at an Anchorage meeting of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.
The 2017 trawl net survey found the lowest numbers of cod on record, more than 70 percent lower than the survey found two years earlier.
Barbeaux said the cod decline likely resulted from the blob, a huge influx of warm Pacific Ocean water that stretched -- during its 2015 peak -- from the Gulf of Alaska to California's offshore waters.
Biologists tracked increases in bird die-offs, whale strandings, and other events such as toxic algae blooms. Even today, its effects appear to linger, such as in the dismal survey results for salmon last summer off Washington and Oregon.
– The Olympian
The blob began to take hold in 2014, and within a year had raised temperatures as much as 7 degrees Fahrenheit in some surface waters of the Gulf of Alaska. In deeper waters, where cod feed, the temperature rose by more than 1 degree Fahrenheit.
The surface temperatures recorded during the blob's peak could be close to the average at century's end, according to a recent report on climate change by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Thus, future blobs could push temperatures much higher than the most recent event.
"They may not necessarily be more frequent, but they will be more intense," said Nicholas Bond, a University of Washington climate scientist who assisted in the Gulf of Alaska cod research. "This is really going to be uncharted territory."
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