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.
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.