Home >Politics >Policy >Climate change may spark conflict over fisheries as species migrate
Many commercially important fish species could move their range hundreds of kilometres northwards and the movement has already begun, according to a research published in the journal Science. File Photo: Reuters
Many commercially important fish species could move their range hundreds of kilometres northwards and the movement has already begun, according to a research published in the journal Science. File Photo: Reuters

Climate change may spark conflict over fisheries as species migrate

Fisheries face a serious new challenge with climate change driving oceans to conditions not experience historically

New Delhi: Warming oceans could spark international conflict over fisheries as it is forcing fish species to migrate in search of colder waters, says a new study.

Climate change is forcing fish species to shift their habitats faster than the world’s system for allocating fish stocks, according to the new research published in the journal Science. Fisheries face a serious new challenge with climate change driving oceans to conditions not experience historically.

“The right to harvest particular species of fish is often decided by national and regional fisheries management bodies. Those bodies have made the rules based on the notion that particular fish species live in particular waters and don’t move much. Well, they’re moving now because climate change is warming ocean temperatures," said lead researcher, assistant professor Malin Pinsky from Rutgers University-New Brunswick in New Jersey, US, who led the study.

Many commercially important fish species could move their range hundreds of kilometres northwards and the movement has already begun, according to the research.

Marine animals have already shifted into new territory at an average rate of 70km a decade and these shifts could accelerate, it stated, while citing the example of flounders, a group of flatfish species, which have already shifted their range 400km farther north.

While this would lead to the appearance of new fisheries in over 70 countries, the study warns that these fisheries would also lead to conflict over newly shared resources.

The study warns that these conflicts would not only spill over into international tensions over trade, borders and sovereignty, but could also lead to over-fishing, threaten the food supply and reduce profit and employment worldwide.

The trade war between the UK and Iceland over the size of catches and quotas that countries are allowed to take from the seas within their own territory is a case in point.

“A future with lower greenhouse gas emissions, like the targets under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, would reduce the potential for conflict," the study says.

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