‘We can have more fish and eat them too,’ improved fisheries management can help reduce conflict, foster global cooperation, and increase fish stocks in the face of climate change, according to researchers of the Environmental Defense Fund.
Fish are a significant source of nutrition for almost half the world’s population and they support more than 40 million jobs worldwide. As an important resource, fish – or rather the lack thereof – can be a cause of food insecurity and potentially be a driver of conflict risk. Reduced fish stocks can also dramatically undermine local economies.
Climate change is overturning existing fishing patterns – threatening access to fish stocks. Fisheries that make up a significant fraction of global catch are not managed at all, or managed inadequately.
‘Fisheries management is likely to be critically important for reducing the vulnerability of fisheries to climate change.’
Fisheries management takes place in circumstances of significant uncertainties. And climate change increases this uncertainty-factor. So, what can be done?
The scientific and management knowledge to counter the effects of climate change on fisheries already exists, despite the uncertain circumstances and challenges. Solutions include data collection for more timely detection changes in stock status for a faster adaptation, better regulations to prevent overfishing, and international agreements and new management regimes.
Adaptive mechanisms need to be put in place; technological advances are making rapid data collection possible, which could allow for a timely detection of stock status in order for rapid adaptation to take place.
Managing fish stocks means food security and incomes from fisheries are maintained, thereby reducing tensions. Indeed, we can have more fish – and eat them too.
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