Climate change would affect fisheries, aquaculture: FAO

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New Delhi, Jul 10 (UNI) United Nations agency Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has said temperature and other variations of climate change will have a strong impact on fisheries and aquaculture.

The UN food agency's note of caution came at the start of a four-day scientific symposium on climate change and marine fisheries being held at its Rome headquarters from 8 to 11 July 2008.

The event, which involves over 200 experts and policymakers from around the globe, aims to paint a complete picture of the challenges that climate change poses to marine fisheries and the millions of people who depend on them for food and income.

Wild capture fisheries are fundamentally different from other food production systems in their linkages and responses to climate change and in the food security outcomes that result, according to the FAO.

Unlike most terrestrial animals, aquatic animal species used for human consumption are poikilothermic, meaning their body temperatures vary according to ambient temperatures. Any changes in habitat temperatures significantly influence their metabolism, growth rate, productivity, seasonal reproduction, and susceptibility to diseases and toxins.

Impacts of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture were also being observed.

In marine waters, climate processes and extreme weather events will increase in frequency and intensity - the most well known of these is the El Nino phenomenon in the South Pacific.

Although large regional differences exist, the world is likely to see significant changes in fisheries production in the seas and oceans, the FAO said.

For communities who heavily rely on fisheries, any decrease in availability or quality of fish for food would affect their livelihoods.

At both, the local and global levels, fisheries and aquaculture play important role in providing food and generating income.

Some 42 million people work directly with the sector, majority of them in developing countries. Adding those who work in associated processing, marketing, distribution and supply industries and the sector supports several hundred million livelihoods.

Aquatic foods have high nutritional quality, contributing 20 per cent or more of average per capita animal protein intake for more than 2.8 billion people, again mostly in developing countries.

Fish is also the world's most widely traded foodstuff and a key source of export earnings for many poorer countries. The sector has particular significance for small island states.

Accordingly, the FAO is focusing on how climate change will affect fisheries and aquaculture.

This week's symposium is intended to deepen and broaden scientific knowledge on how climate change is affecting marine ecoystems and the communities that depend on them.

The symposium is being co-sponsored and co-organised by the FAO, Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (GLOBEC) and European Network of Excellence for Oceans Ecosystem Analysis (EUR-OCEANS).

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