Scientists warn global warming could destroy fish stocks and spark migration

Meeting Paris goals would benefit 75 per cent of maritime countries, with the largest gains in poorer nations

epa07398518 Senegalese fisherman Modu Samba catches a fish in the Atlantic Ocean off the 400 year old fishing village of Ngor, Dakar, Senegal, 26 February 2019. Heavy industrial and large scale fishing practices by international companies has exponentially increased pressure on traditional fishing communities. Highlighted as one of the main causes for the lack of fish for the artisanal fishermen of West Africa is the deals that have been struck over the last 60 years between the governments of West African nations and the countries owning large fishing fleets from Europe and Asia. These deals have benefitted the West African governments financially but not the people they govern. The foreign countries enjoying the fertile fishing grounds off West Africa have been accused of exploiting the resources and ultimately depleting the fishing stocks once the livelihood of the artisanal fisherman. As fish populations decline, stocks move offshore, making them inaccessible to small-scale, artisanal fishermen who do not have vessels or resources to access deep offshore stocks. Each year Modu and the other fishermen of Senegal have to head further and further out to sea using more and more fuel and becoming increasingly more dangerous in their search for fish.  EPA/NIC BOTHMA  ATTENTION: This Image is part of a PHOTO SET
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Millions of people could lose their livelihoods and food source, and be forced from their homes if the world does not meet the Paris goals to curb global warming, Canadian researchers said on Wednesday.

A study by the University of British Columbia compared the economic and environmental impact of holding the global average temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, as agreed to in Paris in 2015.

Lead researcher Rashid Sumaila, director of the university’s fisheries research unit, said meeting the Paris goals would benefit 75 per cent of maritime countries, with the largest gains in poorer nations, by boosting fish supplies.

Fisheries provide about 260 million full-time and part-time jobs globally, with seafood products a crucial export for developing nations, said the study, which was published in the journal Science Advances.

But Mr Sumaila said that failing to curb global warming could lead to "forced migration, not only locally but globally".

“A steady supply of fish is essential to support these jobs, food sovereignty and human well-being,” he said.

Ocean heat, which is recorded by thousands of floating robots, has been setting records repeatedly over the past decade.

Last year was expected to be the hottest year yet, an analysis by the Chinese Academy of Sciences predicted.

The study found the Paris deal would push up the total mass of the top revenue generating fish species globally by 6.5 per cent, with an average increase of 8.4 per cent in waters of developing countries.

Mr Sumaila said achieving the Paris targets could increase global fishing revenue by $4.6 billion (Dh16.9bn) a year.

“The largest gains will occur in developing country waters such as Kiribati, the Maldives and Indonesia, which are at greatest risks due to warming temperatures and rely the most on fish for food security, incomes and employment,” he said.