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article imageChanges in intensity and number of storms to hit fishing industry

By Karen Graham     Jun 26, 2018 in Science
Climate-driven changes in the intensity and frequency of storms around the world could end up having "catastrophic consequences" on the safety and livelihood of fisherman and the sustainability of fishing industries, according to new research.
A new study led by researchers at the University of Exeter in the UK suggests that potential changes in the frequency and intensity of storms off the coast of the UK and around the world could have a negative impact the global fishing industry.
The research is based on a review of past studies and an examination of future projections. The paper warns that the increased intensity of storms would make fishing in the future become more dangerous, displacing fish from their natural habitats and interfering with the ability of fish to breed.
The research paper, Changing Storminess and Global Capture Fisheries, was published in the journal Nature Climate Change on June 25, 2018.
Fishing boat  Magerøya  Norway.
Fishing boat, Magerøya, Norway.
Fanny Schertzer
The paper calls for more detailed projections and simulations to predict more precisely where storms will hit in the future and to support fishing communities as they adapt to a changing climate.
The team of experts from the University of Exeter, Met Office, University of Bristol and Willis Research Network, urges climate-change research to focus sharply on the increase in frequency and intensity of storms as a priority.
Lead author Nigel Sainsbury, of the University of Exeter, said: "Storms are a threat to fishermen's safety, productivity, assets and jobs and to the health of billions of people around the world who rely on fish for their daily nutrition.
"Changing storminess could have serious consequences for vulnerable coastal communities around the world. Conducting research in this area is critical to support the adaptation of fisheries to climate change."
Fishing boats at the beach at Bang Sen  Thailand
Fishing boats at the beach at Bang Sen, Thailand
SeaDave from Fairlie, Scotland
Fishing supports 12 percent of the global population
The paper cites the fishing industry in the UK which contributes £1.4 billion to the economy as well as being an important source of jobs for many coastal communities.
Associate Professor Steve Simpson, a marine biologist at the University of Exeter and co-author in this study, warned: "Our past research has shown how warming seas gradually change the composition of fisheries by shifts in distribution."
We have already seen the shifts in the distribution of ocean stocks - from lobster populations off the southern New England being in decline to studies in 2015 showing the collapse of the Atlantic cod population.
But the big question remains - What do we tell the 12 percent of the global population and 38 million fishermen and women who are supported by the fishing industry when their livelihood disappears?
Co-author Geoffrey Saville, of Willis Research Network, said: "Research is required to identify and evaluate ways in which fisheries can adapt to changing storminess. One possibility that we believe is worth investigating is the adoption of financial mechanisms that are already being used to help farmers to recover from drought."
More about Climate change, fishing industry', marine ecosystem, intensity of storms, Sustainability
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