BELIZE CITY, Belize -- The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) has expressed concern over the future of the region’s seafood reserves, saying that climate change has a rippling effect on the fisheries sector.
Climate change will affect not only the fish and their habitats, but also industry performance and all the human social and economic benefits derived from this, according to the CRFM’s deputy director, Dr Susan Singh-Renton.
She said, “The direct, more immediate impacts that we can expect to see are deterioration in the quality of the marine habitats and accompanying declines in local marine resources through effects on their production and availability.”
Singh-Renton outlined that there will be ripple-on impacts for industry livelihoods and the contribution of fresh fish in meeting the region’s food and nutrition security demands.
She added, “The tourism industry will also take a big hit, as the typical Caribbean vacation will offer poorer sand and sea recreational activities.”
“Caribbean marine life is being threatened throughout the range of supporting habitats. Sea grass beds, mangrove swamps, coral reefs and the open ocean will face changed conditions, affecting sea life in both nursery grounds and adult living areas,” according to Singh-Renton.
The coral reefs are being affected by ocean acidification, increased sea temperatures that are known to cause coral bleaching, excessive sedimentation from land-based sources usually through flooding. Singh-Renton emphasized that the region’s coral reefs are described as among “the ‘richest ecosystems on earth’, and should be carefully monitored and conserved.”
Other factors which have the potential to affect Caribbean fisheries include changes to ocean current patterns (which influence the migration patterns of larger fish) and riverine inputs, which provide much needed nutrients to local fish stocks. Singh-Renton noted that riverine inputs of nutrients are also at risk from climate change, which can alter the flow and volume of riverine material in coastal waters.
Singh-Renton was speaking at a forum on “Inclusive Evidence Based Coverage of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Caribbean” at the 12th Caribbean Week of Agriculture which took place in Guyana earlier this month.