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

  • Widow of Elijah Cummings to run for his seat in Congress

    World News CTV News
    Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, widow of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, announced Monday that she will run in the special election for her late husband's former seat in Congress. "We fought alongside of each other for a very long time, and now I'm looking to continue to fight. Source
  • U.S. Supreme Court to hear Trump bid to end safeguards for immigrant 'Dreamers'

    World News CBC News
    The U.S. Supreme Court is set on Tuesday to hear arguments over the legality of President Donald Trump's effort to rescind a program that protects from deportation hundreds of thousands of immigrants — dubbed "Dreamers" — who entered the United States illegally as children, part of his tough immigration policies. Source
  • Singapore baggage handler jailed for intentionally mislabelling 286 pieces of luggage

    World News CTV News
    A Singaporean baggage handler has been jailed for 20 days for swapping tags on nearly 300 suitcases at the city-state's airport, causing them to end up at wrong destinations around the world. Tay Boon Keh, 66, had pleaded guilty to charges of swapping the tags on 286 bags at Changi Airport, one of the world's busiest hubs. Source
  • Evo Morales flees crisis-torn Bolivia after deadly clashes

    World News CBC News
    Bolivia faced its worst unrest in decades amid a political vacuum Tuesday, while Evo Morales, who transformed the Andean nation as its first Indigenous president, fled the country following weeks of violent protests. Morales flew out on a Mexican government plane late Monday hours after being granted asylum as his supporters and foes fought on the streets of the capital while an opposition leader tearfully laid out a possible path toward new elections in the wake of the president's…
  • Egypt denies former president Morsi was mistreated in prison

    World News CTV News
    CAIRO - Egyptian lawmakers said Monday that the late President Mohammed Morsi was treated well in prison, just days after a UN report attributed Morsi's death to “brutal” conditions inside the country's jails. Alaa Abed, head of the Parliament's human rights committee, told The Associated Press that allegations of Morsi's mistreatment were an attempt to slander the government. Source
  • Israeli airstrike kills Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza home

    World News CTV News
    GAZA, Palestinian Territory -- Israel killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza early Tuesday in a rare targeted killing that threatened to unleash a fierce round of cross-border violence with Palestinian militants. The militant group said the commander's wife was also killed in the airstrike and that their children were wounded. Source
  • Mexican official: Arrests made in killings of U.S. citizens

    World News CTV News
    MEXICO CITY - Mexico's top security official says arrests have been made in last week's killings of nine U.S. women and children by suspected cartel gunmen in northern Mexico. Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo is not saying how many people have been arrested or giving any information on what organization they belong to. Source
  • Protesters disrupt commute again after violent Hong Kong day

    World News CBC News
    Protesters disrupted the morning commute in Hong Kong on Tuesday after an especially violent day in the Chinese city that has been racked by anti-government protests for more than five months. Blocking streets and subway stations has been a common tactic of the anti-government protesters, but recent weeks have been marked by clashes with police, escalating vandalism against government and commercial property, and assaults by both protesters and pro-Beijing supporters. Source
  • Winds fan ferocious fires in Australia's most populous state

    World News CBC News
    Hundreds of schools were closed and residents were urged to evacuate woodlands for the relative safety of city centres Tuesday as hot, dry and windy weather fanned wildfires to emergency-level ferocity across Australia's most populous state. Source
  • Winds fan emergency-level fires in Australian southeast

    World News CBC News
    Hundreds of schools were closed and residents were urged to evacuate woodlands for the relative safety of city centres Tuesday as hot, dry and windy weather fanned wildfires to emergency-level ferocity across Australia's most populous state. Source