Fishing Communities Put the Heat on Climate Change Talks

December 8, 2011

As global leaders convene in Durban, South Africa to tackle climate change, WCS coral reef fisheries expert Dr. Tim McClanahan and his colleague Dr. Joshua Cinner urge action on behalf of the world’s fishing communities dependent upon the increasingly threatened bounty of warming tropical seas.

International governments, development agencies, and other organizations have convened in Durban, South Africa to tackle the urgent crisis of climate change. Political disagreements on how to address this challenge continue, while in the real world, shifting weather patterns, increasing temperatures, and more acidic oceans indicate that planetary warming is having significant impacts on people across the globe.

On the local level, many communities dependent on natural resources are finding the effects of climate change to be a threat to their survival. For example, in the coastal communities of the Indian Ocean, coral reef fish are a staple on the menu of millions of people, providing protein and other critical nutrients. Overfishing already makes it difficult to get a day’s catch. This is now being compounded by increased ocean temperatures, which have killed 95 percent of the corals in some places. The associated habitat loss has and will continue to precipitate a further decrease in the availability of fish. Most strikingly, there is a pronounced lack of juveniles for many important fisheries species, which makes tomorrow’s catch look even bleaker.

Read more in this editorial on National Geographic NewsWatch >>

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