WWF report addresses climate change


Mercedes Grandin, SeafoodSource contributing editor

Published on
May 6, 2009

A new report from the UK World Wildlife Foundation reveals the harmful affects of climate change on plankton and fish distribution and species variety in the United Kingdom’s seas.

The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) report found that climate change, defined by the WWF as "the unlimited burning of fossil fuels," is hurting the oceans in a variety of ways, including the drastic reduction of plankton productivity and decline of species such as the sandeel, which has negatively affected seabird populations like black-legged kittiwake, terns and skuas.

The report also found that climate change increases the likelihood of the growth of non-native species that adversely affect fisheries and aquaculture, and contributes to the increased flooding and erosion of coastal communities.

"Warmer oceans and less productive plankton communities will reduce the capacity of the ocean to absorb CO2 and increase the amount of CO2 retained in the atmosphere. This has serious implications for marine ecosystems, as well as the way the oceans regulate global climate," said Emily Lewis-Brown, WWF’s marine climate change officer, who contributed to the MCCIP report. "Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is crucial, but we also need to make sure the UK Marine and Coastal Access Bill currently going through parliament is strong enough to safeguard our seas against the added threat of climate change."

On 13 May the WWF and its supporters will lobby parliament to ensure that the bill is strengthened to protect marine species and habitats.

In addition to the MCCIP report, the WWF also announced a collaborative five-year research program focusing on understanding why northeast Atlantic, Antarctic and Arctic Oceans waters are experiencing an increase in acidity.

"Seawater is naturally slightly alkaline, but over the last 200 years (since the industrial revolution) ocean acidity has increased 30 percent, and at a much faster rate than any time in the last 65 million years," WWF said.

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