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Climate change could lead to international fish fights
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Climate change could lead to international fish fights

Climate change could spark international fish fights


As valuable fish stocks fleeing warmer water cross into different national borders, tensions between countries will likely rise. new study suggests.

Senior author William Cheung said that the climate crisis will force 45 percent of the world’s share fish stocks to leave their historic habitat ranges and migration routes. This will create a challenge for international cooperation.

“Fish don’t recognize political boundaries,” said Cheung, associate professor with the University of British Columbia’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries.

Cheung stated that fish allocations, such as who gets what and for how much, are political constructs. These agreements are based on a range of existing conventions and treats, but they will have to adapt to changing realities if global emission levels continue to rise.

Climate change is pushing transboundary stock to fishing grounds closer the Poles. In many instances, the shift is already taking place, he said. Additionally, shifts on the Pacific Coast of Central America and West Africa will be primarily along the Equator.

While the shifts will be faster in tropical areas like South Asia and South Asia, they will also occur sooner in northern temperate nations.

The study predicts that ten transboundary fish stock shared by Canada and the U.S. along the Pacific coast will shift ranges by 2033.

William Cheung, UBC researcher, believes that international agreements that address the effects of global warming are the best way to avoid disputes regarding shifting fish stocks. Photo by Sylvie L / UBC

Juliano Palacios Abrantes, the lead author, stated that the research team also examined the catch shares of the five most valuable transboundary stock of Canada and the U.S.

According to Palacios Abrantes, who is now a researcher at UW-Madison, those catch proportions will move northwest from the U.S. states south of their border to B.C. as well as from Alaska and Russia.

According to a recent study by @UBCoceans, ten transboundary fish stock shares by Canada and the U.S. at the Pacific coast are expected to shift by 2033 as a result of #ClimateChange.

Fisheries agreements typically rely on historical data and aren’t necessarily tweaked to deal with the changes to stocks caused by climate change, he said.

“Many of the fisheries management agreements made to regulate shared stocks were established in past decades, with rules that apply to a world situation that is not the same as today,” he said in aPress release.

Cheung stated that salmon and halibut are two of the most valuable stocks in Canada and the U.S. West Coast.

The stocks are managed by the two countries through thePacific Salmon Treaty (PST).And International Pacific Halibut Commission He said regulations and that agreements can be used to help with any fishing tensions.

However, the existence of such treaties doesn’t guarantee tensions won’t flare and cause fractures in relations — even between friendly nations.

B.C. and the U.S. states of Alaska, Washington and Oregon got into a dispute in 1992 after the PST expired and agreements couldn’t be reached around new fishing allocations.

The Pacific Salmon War was a conflict in which U.S. and Canadian salmon harvesters targeted salmon bound for each other’s waterways. The dispute lasted six long years and saw a flotilla from B.C. Before a 1999 agreement was made, fishing boats blocked the Prince Rupert harbour ferry that was carrying an Alaskan vessel.

The current PST expires in 2028. Last week, conservation groups said in a technical document that adaptations to fishing allocations for southeast Alaskan districts must be made immediately.

According to the conservation coalition, Alaskan harvesters are capturing threatened salmon stocks such as sockeye that are heading for the Skeena River and Nass rivers at unacceptable numbers.

The study suggests that drafting fishing agreements that anticipate changes caused by global warming is the best way to avoid potential disputes about shifting stocks around the globe.

This could allow fishing fleets to harvest in neighboring waters if they offer a portion of the catch or profit. You can also create fishing agreements that are more flexible and nimble in adjusting quota agreements to climate change.

The study tracked the shift in 9,132 transboundary fish stock stocks, which accounted for 80 percent of the catch of the international fishing boundaries. It was conducted from 2006 to 2100.

Gabriel Reygondeau, co-author and UBC researcher, said that the study is useful because it uses climate models to predict when stocks will become tension points. This allows for solutions to be found now.

“We must accept that climate change is happening, and then move fast enough to adapt fisheries management regulations to account for it.”

Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer


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