Scientific Organizations Call for Urgent Action to Address Climate Change to Conserve Freshwater and Marine Ecosystems
Wild Oceans joined with 110 scientific societies representing more than 80,000 scientists from around the world in a statement outlining the evidence for how climate change is seriously impacting freshwater and marine resources. In the statement, the organizations warn that “delaying action to control greenhouse gas emissions is not an option if humankind wishes to conserve the aquatic resources and environmental safety of the world.”
Fishery managers in the United States are already grappling with how to handle the effects of climate change, as oceans become more acidic and fish stocks move poleward in response to warming waters and changing ocean conditions. The federal fishery management system established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, our nation’s main fishing law, sets up a system of eight regional councils to oversee the management of fishery resources in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (3-200 miles from shore). This regional system was designed to provide for local-level input to inform management strategies that best meet the unique needs of each region.
Shifting stock distributions are a major challenge to the current regional fishery management structure as fish species move across management boundaries into new territories where regulations, including monitoring and reporting, may not apply. Wild Oceans staff members are following climate change scenario planning projects on the east and west coasts to encourage regional fishery management councils to collaboratively plan for climate change impacts by prioritizing the resiliency of ecosystems and fishing communities.
Scenario planning alone will not be enough to prevent the most severe impacts to fishery resources and to the human communities that depend on them if action is not taken to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. “Wild Oceans is proud to join with other organizations around the world to call attention to the strong body of scientific evidence documenting impacts from climate change,” said Wild Oceans executive director Pam Lyons Gromen. “As an organization dedicated to the conservation of marine fishery resources, we felt that it was imperative to send a clear message about the urgent need for action to preserve healthy aquatic ecosystems and safeguard human well-being.”