climate change

The Impact of Climate Change on Aquaculture

Climate change is impacting the structure and function of many critical ecosystems such as mangroves, seagrasses, estuaries, and lagoons. These are critical for the life stages of many farmed seafood species as habitat changes can affect aquaculture productivity and security.

What are the Impacts of Climate Change?

There are multiple chemical and physical changes caused by climate change, which are affecting global marine and freshwater systems. Physical changes include temperature change, sea level change, ocean circulation, and storm systems. Chemical changes include salinity, 02 content, carbon uptake, and acidification. Furthermore, climate change can cause extreme events such a weather and climate variables and phenomena that are creating problems for aquaculture.

How is this affecting the fisheries?

Climate change is making a significant impact to marine species. Generally, there has been a reduction in body size of some species, shifting biogeographies of stocks that influence species abundance and composition, as well as a change in interaction dynamics.

There is an increasing concern for calcifying organisms. These species use seawater calcium to produce calcium carbonate in order to construct their skeletons of shells. With the changes of pH levels, more energy is required for calcification, which takes away energy from other biological processes such as growth or reproduction. As a result, marine biological systems are changing rapidly. As water is more acidic, external shells can be weakened or even dissolved. Some species are being able to rapidly adapt to the changes in their ecosystems, for examples, some mussels can now conduct a special coating procedure to protect their shells from direct contact with seawater.

Currently, the focus is on reducing risk and vulnerability whilst seeking opportunities to allow aquatic systems to cope with climate impacts. The impact of climate change also has a social and community impact in consideration of food security as well as job security. Fisheries provide 3 billion people with almost 20% of their average capita intake of animal protein. On top of this 400 million people depend critically on fish for food security, which is being threatened by the impact of climate change.

Reducing the impact of climate change has the potential to improve the damaging effects on aquaculture, but until then, the focus is on smart adaptation to ensure the best for all species and communities affected.

Thank you to the Global Aquaculture Alliance for their information.

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