Climate change affecting Caribbean fisheries
Bert Wilkinson | 10/31/2013, 2:45 p.m.
An umbrella Caribbean trade bloc body that oversees the fisheries sector this week complained that climate change could one day ruin the sector, seriously affecting tourist attractions like coral reefs while being responsible for a decline in fish production in the region.
The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) said in a statement that weather that is clearly hotter than a decade ago is already damaging coral reefs across the region, and this could have a negative effect on tourism, as reefs are extremely popular with scuba divers and other tourists from around the world.
“The tourism industry will take a big hit, as the typical Caribbean vacation will offer poorer sand and sea recreational activities,” the umbrella body noted as it sounded alarm bells to those in authority to closely monitor the situation.
“Caribbean marine life is being threatened throughout the range of supporting habitats. Sea grass beds, mangrove swamps, coral reefs and the open ocean will face changed conditions, affecting sea life in both nursery grounds and adult living areas,” the agency said.
It noted that climate change will affect not only the fish and their habitats, but also the performance of the industry and all the human and social benefits that are derived from the sector.
The body said that scientists have noticed increased “ocean acidification” and higher sea temperatures, which result in the bleaching of coral reefs and excessive sedimentation from land-based sources through flooding.
The CRFM said the Caribbean region has among the “richest ecosystems on earth” and all efforts should be made to preserve them, it added, noting that projected changes in ocean currents are likely to influence migration patterns of larger fish and inputs from the sea, which serve as nutrients to fish stock.
The warning from the agency and its attending predictions come as governments complain about the indifferent attitude of the U.S. and other nations—widely regarded as the biggest polluters—to pleas from developing countries about changing weather patterns and their effects on the grouping of mostly small island nations from Belize in Central America to Suriname on the South American coast.
Authorities have blamed changing weather patterns and stronger and more frequent hurricanes and want the major polluters to work toward ensuring that the global temperature increase will be no more than 1.5 degrees, as anything above this would mean doom for a region that is almost dependent on tourism for survival.