View Full Version : Fisheries Collapse Imperils Developing Nations

02-05-2009, 03:34 PM

Fisheries Collapse Imperils Developing Nations’ Food, Jobs
By Jeremy van Loon and Alex Emery

Feb. 5 (Bloomberg) -- The risk of fisheries collapsing in Peru, the world’s largest fishmeal producer, and developing nations such as Senegal that depend on fish for both food and jobs means economic hardship as climate change threatens fishing grounds.

About 33 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia are “highly vulnerable” to rising ocean temperatures, changes in river flows and less precipitation, said Allison Perry of the World Fish Center, who co-wrote a study that looked at the economic risks to fisheries in countries affected by changing weather.

The world’s poorest countries are less able to adapt to these changes because they lack the financial resources to replace a food source and an industry that contributes more to economic activity than in wealthier nations. “Many of these countries are simply not in a position to adapt and implement measures,” Perry said.

Peru exports mainly to China, Spain and the U.S. The South American nation boosted fishing exports last year by 23 percent to a record $2.4 billion, including $1.4 billion in fishmeal. While anchovy is its main export, Peru has been working to diversify into frozen, fresh and canned fish exports, including squid and shrimp.

Fishing is Peru’s fourth-biggest export earner after mining, oil and gas with about 145,000 people out of a population of 28 million making a living off the industry, government data shows.

Senegal, a country with a per capita gross domestic product of about $1,000, relies on its fishery for a fifth of its exports. At the same time, fish provides 43 percent of the animal protein for the average Senegalese, Perry said in an interview.

The bleaching of coral reefs, home to many species of tropical fish, rising temperatures in lakes and less precipitation are harming both freshwater and marine fisheries worldwide, she said.

Atlantic Sturgeon’s Extinction

Fisheries are already suffering from over-exploitation of fish stocks with the extinction of the Atlantic sturgeon in the U.S.’s Chesapeake Bay. While the impact of climate change on fisheries will be more severe in higher latitudes, it is poorer countries closer to the equator that are less prepared to cope, Perry said.

More than half of the world’s fisheries are exploited beyond their harvest capacity, threatening to reduce fish stocks to dangerous levels, the UN’s Environment Program said. About 2.6 billion people’s main source of protein comes from fish, UNEP said.

Global warming and climate change put additional stresses on fishing grounds and may destroy commercial fisheries in the coming years as ocean currents are disrupted and seas become more acidic, UNEP reported last year. Oceans are absorbing rising levels of carbon dioxide, raising their acidity levels, while global warming increases surface temperatures. Both harm fish populations.