New Threat to Fish Stocks

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By Wezi Tjaronda

WINDHOEK

Climate change could be aggravating dwindling fish stocks in countries that derive a significant percentage of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from fishing, a United Nations (UN) report says.

This will have additional consequences on fish stocks that are already under pressure from pollution and over harvesting.

A UN environment programme report – “In Dead Water: merging of climate change with pollution over harvest and infestations in the world’s fishing grounds” – published last month said the world’s key fishing grounds could become seriously affected.

In addition, the fishing sectors of countries such as Namibia, Ghana, Senegal and Uganda, whose GDP is over 6 percent, might shrink.

Already, authorities in Namibia are worried about the ever-presence of jellyfish in the country’s waters as they feed on fish eggs of commercial species. Although no scientific information is available in Namibia on what causes the jellyfish to multiply, experts believe climate change and alterations in the ecosystem could have contri-buted to such an increase.

During the annual address of the fishing industry, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Dr Abraham Iyambo, said effects of global warming have been impacting negatively on nature and economies.

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism and other stakeholders will, later this year, assess the fishing sector to determine the impact of climate change.

The assessment results will form part of the country’s second national communication on climate change.

Namibia has one of the most productive fishing grounds in the world, based on the Benguela Current system, one of the four eastern boundary upwelling systems in the world. But according to the report, high catches that characterise some countries may become a thing of the past and a high dependence on fish for protein may threaten the health of many as catches shrink.

The report said Africa’s fisheries are partly at risk because semi-arid climates with significant coastal and inland fisheries have high exposure to future temperature increases and the linked changes in rainfall patterns and coastal current systems.

According to Namib Coast Conservation and Management, the effects of global warming through climate change are already being felt on the Namibian coast.

The organisation said with the rise in sea level, coastal erosion will be more aggressive, there will be an increase in air and water temperature, and harsh droughts will occur more often, which would seriously impact the environment and the economy.

The marine industry supplies jobs to tens of thousands of people with a high average number of 10 dependents per job. This brings the number of people benefiting from fisheries to 137??????’??

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