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Changing sea conditions threaten a major world food source -- U.N. report Lisa Friedman, E&E reporter

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2012

From West Africa to the Bay of Bengal, a new study shows climate change presents one of the most acute threats to large marine ecosystems.

The report from the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP), "Frontline Observations on Climate Change and Sustainability of Large Marine Ecosystems," warns that fish and their habitats are at risk from cyclones of increasing intensity while sea-level rise hurts coastal habitats and the chances of survival for already vulnerable species like turtles.

Calling for a more holistic approach to natural resource management, the authors argue that systematic monitoring and assessment of key ecosystem indicators are critical to provide options to restore and sustain coastal communities.

"The growing risks and impacts of climate change on oceans require the world to urgently invest in a green economy whereby countries achieve development targets in an environmentally sustainable way, while at the same time meeting the needs of its citizens," Yannick Glemarec, executive coordinator of UNDP and the Global Environment Facility, said in a statement.

The report examines several currents, including upwelling in the Canary Current, which moves south along the West Coast of North America, beginning off southern British Columbia and ending off southern Baja California.

There, the authors observed shifts in the movement of sardine stocks in northwest Africa, which appear to be moving north from traditional fishing areas in Senegal to cooler waters off the coast of Mauritania. Meanwhile, in Asia, stronger monsoon activity in the Bay of Bengal has led to lower salinity rates, denying the surface waters nutrients, lowering productivity and reducing fish populations.

Oceans are a major focus of the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, where the report was unveiled. The World Bank and other multilateral development banks yesterday issued joint statements pledging to work together on environmental issues, including ocean health, saying oceans remain severely threatened by pollution, unsustainable harvesting and ocean acidification.

The final negotiating text of the Rio conference also cites the need to protect oceans. But environmental groups say it doesn't go far enough.


Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net. 202-628-6500

 

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Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net. 202-628-6500.


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