Net loss: First Nations fisheries threatened by climate change, study says

First Nations communities that have fished along Canada’s Pacific coast for thousands of years could have their catches nearly cut in half by 2050, according to a new study conducted at the University of British Columbia.

See Full Article

As climate change continues to heat up ocean temperatures, researchers predict that fish living in Canadian waters could respond by moving north to chillier habitats.

Researchers say increased sea surface temperatures are likely to affect 98 fish and shellfish species that First Nations groups rely on for food and jobs. The price tag for such a loss is estimated to be between $6.7 and $12 million per year by 2050, according to the study.

“This could have large implications for communities who have been harvesting these fish and shellfish for millennia,” said United Nations scientist Lauren Weatherdon, who conducted the study as a UBC graduate student, in a statement.

The study was published Wednesday in PLOS ONE, a peer-reviewed science journal, and was conducted by a research team with the Nereus Program, an international group of scientists at UBC’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries.

The study examined two possible scenarios for rising sea-surface temperatures -- a low-balled projection (0.5 degrees Celsius by 2050) and a higher projection (1 degree Celsius by 2050) -- and mapped out models of how fish would likely respond.

In the low estimate, researchers say fish would move towards polar waters at an average rate of 10.3 kilometres per decade. In the higher estimate, fish would relocate at an average rate of 18 kilometres per decade, the study says.

The findings are significant because First Nations groups are “generally confined to their traditional territories when fishing for food, social, and ceremonial purposes,” Weatherdon said.

Herring are expected to be among the hardest-hit species, with researchers predicting catches reduced up to 49 per cent by 2050. For salmon, catches are expected to decrease as much as 29 per cent by 2050.

Researchers say that all First Nations communities are expected to be affected by rising sea temperatures, but groups living in southern B.C., such as the Tsawwassen and Maa-nulth First Nations, are expected to be the “most severely affected.”

Governments across the world have expressed commitments to curb global warming. Last December, all 195 countries participating in the United Nations climate change summit agreed to keep global warming "well below" 2 C while striving to limit them to 1.5 C instead.

And while the Paris Agreement acknowledged the concerns of First Nations people, study co-author Yoshitaka Ota said that “little is known about the impacts of climate change on coastal indigenous people.”

The study hopes to fill in that knowledge gap and provide accurate figures as to the future of coastal fishing for First Nations.

If the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement are met, researchers say the consequences to First Nations could be mitigated.

“Limiting global warming effectively to 1.5 C by the end of the 21st century, as represented by the low emission scenario considered by our study, can substantially reduce such impacts,” said co-author and UBC associate professor William Cheung in a statement.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Boat capsize in Bangladesh kills at least 24 Hindu pilgrims

    World News CTV News
    DHAKA, Bangladesh - A boat carrying about 100 Hindu pilgrims capsized Sunday in a river in northern Bangladesh, leaving at least 24 people dead, police said. The overcrowded boat overturned in the afternoon while returning from a Hindu temple on the other side of the River Karatoa at Boda area in Panchagarh district, said local police chief S.M. Source
  • Wild horses on Sable Island appear safe after island struck by Fiona

    Canada News CTV News
    The herd of wild horses inhabiting an isolated island that was directly in the path of post-tropical storm Fiona appear to have come through the extreme weather safely. Sable Island, a small island around 300km southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, is a National Park Reserve, staffed by a handful of Parks Canada employees year round. Source
  • Around 100 Canadian troops deployed to each of N.S., P.E.I., N.L. for post-Fiona recovery: feds

    Canada News CTV News
    In an update Sunday regarding the devastation of post-tropical storm Fiona in the Atlantic provinces, federal officials confirmed that the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are already on the ground in several provinces to assist and are on their way to others. Source
  • Italian far-right leader's alliance leading vote: exit poll

    World News CTV News
    ROME - Far-right leader Giorgia Meloni’s electoral alliance appeared to hold a wide lead in Italy’s national vote, an exit poll on state television suggested Sunday evening following a record-low turnout. Rai state broadcaster said Meloni’s Brothers of Italy in alliance with two right-wing parties appeared headed to take 45 per cent of the vote in both chambers of Parliament. Source
  • Giorgia Meloni's far-right alliance leads in Italian elections

    World News CTV News
    ROME - Riding a meteoric rise, Giorgia Meloni with her nationalist party appeared well positioned to give Italy its first far-right-led government since the Second World War, according to projections based on a partial vote count Monday from elections for Parliament. Source
  • Italy voters shift sharply, reward Meloni's far-right party

    World News CTV News
    ROME - Italian voters shifted sharply, rewarding a party with neo-fascist roots and bolstering prospects the country could have its first far-right-led government since World War II, partial results Monday from the election for Parliament indicated. Source
  • Judge rejects injunction request of 5 Western University students to block COVID booster mandate

    Canada News CBC News
    A court injunction filed by five Western University students to block the London, Ont., institution's COVID-19 booster shot mandate has been rejected by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, according to court documents. In a written decision, Justice Kelly Tranquilli stated that as an independent, autonomous, and self-governing institution, Western can govern its affairs separate from the province, and collecting personal health data from staff and students is its way of implementing the…
  • Protesters march through downtown Ottawa, burn headscarf in demonstration against Iran

    Canada News CBC News
    With the death of a young Iranian woman in police custody sparking demonstrations around the world, hundreds of people also took to the streets of Ottawa Sunday to protest against the Iranian government. The 22-year-old woman died last week while in custody of Iran's morality police. Source
  • Black Canadian talent to be celebrated at Sunday's inaugural Legacy Awards

    Canada News CBC News
    A new awards show highlighting the achievements of Black Canadian talent will launch on Sunday night. The inaugural Legacy Awards are the country's first all-Black awards ceremony. The 90-minute live show, which will celebrate accomplishments in film, television, music, sports and culture, is set to feature emerging and established Black Canadian talent. Source
  • Bill Blaikie, longtime Manitoba NDP politican, dead at 71

    Canada News CBC News
    Tributes are pouring in following news that Bill Blaikie, a longtime Manitoba New Democrat whose political career spanned more than three decades, has died. Blaikie, 71, died in Winnipeg on Saturday following a battle with metastatic kidney cancer, according to a Facebook post by his family. Source