N.L. fisheries not immune to climate change: scientist

Ashley
Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Offshore ecosystems now central to research, says George Rose

When hundreds of professionals from around the world, focused on seafood, come together in the City of St. John’s, the subject of Atlantic cod stocks is sure to arise.

George Rose

In a keynote speech at the 2013 World Seafood Congress Tuesday morning, George Rose, the fisheries conservation chair at the Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland, swiftly walked through some of the history of the Grand Banks fishing grounds and the collapse of the cod stocks off Newfoundland and Labrador.

He also spoke about some findings of study from the last 20 years, including the fact climate change is affecting offshore ecosystems.

Rose told the approximately 250 conference delegates the collapse of cod stocks, and the moratorium, was mainly due to overfishing.

However, looking ahead — whether the subject is cod, caplin, lobster, crab, shrimp or any other species — determining what amounts to a sustainable fishery is about gathering the information that will provide the best, most detailed understanding of the ever-changing situation within offshore ecosystems.

Temperatures, acidity levels, and even the amount of plastic floating in our waters all need to be considered, he said.

On climate change, “I’ve read recent reports from as diverse places as Norway, the Northeastern United States and China ... all basically reporting similar phenomenon: massive changes in production of their local waters,” he said.

Rose said climate has long been recognized as “a major, major — probably the most important influence” on fisheries.

“And we’ve known that the impacts are on reproduction, they’re on growth, they’re on distribution — all of the vital factors that determine production in an ecosystem. They are all fundamentally a child of climate.”

That’s why, he said, the changes happening need to be faced, and studied, around the world.

“We’ve seen many, many changes in our ecosystem because of this, but it’s complicated. This is where the science becomes at once intriguing and interesting, but also very complex,” he said.

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com

Organizations: World Seafood Congress, Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Norway, United States China

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  • H Jefford
    October 02, 2013 - 14:57

    The survival rate of the northern cod stock 30+ years ago , Was in a paper put out by the DEPT OF FISHERIES IN A PAPER CALLED " ONE IN A MILLION" This paper which I have a copy of, TELLS HOW ONE COD EGG IN A MILLION SURVIVES TO BECOME AN ADULT COD! This was 30+ years ago when fish were plenty? How low must the Survival rate be now? The only way to help nature to increase the Cod Stock is with MANS help and the use of a fish hatchery, Where cod spawn can be gathered and the spawn hatched and when the small tom cods reach a desired size then release them into small protected bays or arears where the cod stock may be helped to increase, The survival rate was in this paper CALLED ONE IN A MILLION may be with mans help it can be increased to many hundreds of thousands in a Million, MAN HAS ALMOST DESTROYED THE COD STOCK AND ONLY MAN CAN HELP RESTORE IT to WHAT IT ONCE WAS.

  • H Jefford
    October 02, 2013 - 14:53

    The survival rate of the northern cod stock 30+ years ago , Was in a paper put out by the DEPT OF FISHERIES IN A PAPER CALLED " ONE IN A MILLION" This paper which I have a copy of, TELLS HOW ONE COD EGG IN A MILLION SURVIVES TO BECOME AN ADULT COD! This was 30+ years ago when fish were plenty? How low must the Survival rate be now? The only way to help nature to increase the Cod Stock is with MANS help and the use of a fish hatchery, Where cod spawn can be gathered and the spawn hatched and when the small tom cods reach a desired size then release them into small protected bays or arears where the cod stock may be helped to increase, The survival rate was in this paper CALLED ONE IN A MILLION may be with mans help it can be increased to many hundreds of thousands in a Million, MAN HAS ALMOST DESTROYED THE COD STOCK AND ONLY MAN CAN HELP RESTORE IT to WHAT IT ONCE WAS.