Thursday, July 7

Climate Crisis Threatens Fish Nutrient Access, Study Finds | Fish

The climate crisis and, to a lesser extent, overfishing could threaten the global supply of essential vitamins and minerals obtained from fishing, according to research.

Globally One billion people They depend on fish and shellfish as their main source of protein. Fish is also a key source of micronutrients, vitamins and minerals such as omega 3, calcium and iron, essential for the health of the body. A deficiency in these can cause a variety of dangerous health conditions, as well as reductions in energy levels and mental clarity.

Overfishing and the climate crisis are two of the most important threats to marine life, affecting the size, distribution and abundance of species globally. To determine how these increasing pressures influence the nutritional contribution of global fisheries, an international team of researchers led by Lancaster University has combined data on the micronutrient content of species with a vulnerability index that indicates the susceptibility of the species. to climate change and overfishing. They apply these metrics to more than 800 species of fish in 157 countries.

“When we look at the country level, climate change is the most pervasive threat to the supply of vital micronutrients, and particularly in the tropics,” said Dr. Eva Maire, senior research associate at Lancaster University and lead author of the study. Overall, the results showed that in just over 40% of the countries studied, fishing is highly vulnerable to climate change, which threatens the food security of millions of people.

The study, published in Current Biology, analyzed five key micronutrients: calcium, iron, zinc, selenium and vitamin A. In contrast to the clear impact of the climate crisis, they found that global fisheries have relatively low nutritional vulnerability to the pressure of overfishing.

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“A key reason why climate change is such a threat comes down to the species of fish that these countries target as part of the catches,” Maire explained. There are differences in the way that different species of fish are rich in nutrients, and vulnerability to climate change and overfishing varies considerably at the species level. The study found that there are some species that are nutrient dense and not very vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and overfishing, making them potential targets in fisheries management.

Climate is impacting and dramatically changing fisheries, but these are currently not being managed in a way that pays attention to available nutrients, explained Professor Christina Hicks, an environmental social scientist at Lancaster University, who was also involved in the research.

“If we connect the understanding [of nutritional needs in coastal populations] to what we know about what is available in the water and how what is available is likely to change, then we can pay more attention to fisheries that are managed locally, through a nutrition-sensitive and climate-sensitive lens. ” , He said.

Professor Jason Hall-Spencer, a marine biologist at the University of Plymouth who was not involved in the study, said one problem was the way in which international industrial fishing fleets plunder nutrition-rich tropical fisheries that could otherwise benefit fisheries. local populations.

“Really local people should get the nutritional benefits from those,” he said.[but] They don’t have the big boats that are required to catch this type of fish, they fish in a more artisanal way or in a way that has small boats ”.

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This was evident in the study, which showed a great abundance of micronutrients that are captured in the coastal waters of countries where diets are inadequate in those same nutrients. “We identified this huge gap, or this inequality between who catches the fish and who needs the fish, and that’s because there are foreign fishing vessels, there is demand for foreign income through trade,” Hicks said.

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