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

  • Hoping to lure back tourists, Greece reopens beaches after lockdown

    World News CTV News
    ATHENS -- With widely spaced sun loungers and regular disinfections, Greece reopened its organized beaches on Saturday as the popular Mediterranean holiday destination eases COVID-19 curbs in preparation for the return of foreign visitors next week. Source
  • First bottles of Chernobyl spirits seized by Ukrainian authorities

    World News CTV News
    TORONTO -- The first shipment of a spirit drink made from apples grown near the Chernobyl nuclear plant have been seized by Ukrainian security services for unknown reasons, according to the company that produces it. On Thursday, the Chernobyl Spirit Company announced that the first batch of 1,500 bottles of their “ATOMIK” Apple Spirit had been recently confiscated by Kyiv City Prosecutors following an investigation by Ukrainian secret services (SBU). Source
  • 'Hold onto the light': Toronto to vaccinate 50% of all adults with first doses this weekend

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Half of all adults in Toronto will have received the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccine this weekend, marking an important milestone, officials say, in the fight against the deadly disease. The City of Toronto announced the update in a news release on Saturday, saying officials anticipate that first doses of the vaccines will be administered to at least 50 per cent of people over the age of 18 by the end of the weekend. Source
  • Alberta now screening patients who visit province's COVID-19 hotspots

    Canada News CTV News
    CALGARY -- Alberta Health Services tells CTV News they have adopted a practice where they inquire about the recent travel history of patients being admitted to hospital, and add that Banff and Fort McMurray are on that list. Source
  • NHL relaxing virus protocols for vaccinated playoff teams

    Canada News CBC News
    The NHL is relaxing virus protocols during the playoffs for teams that reach a threshold for vaccination. The league sent a memo to teams and players Friday night outlining changes that take hold once 85% or more of the travelling party has been fully vaccinated. Source
  • Bomb blasts kill dozens near school in Afghan capital

    World News CBC News
    Multiple blasts targeted a school in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Saturday, killing at least 40 people and wounding dozens more, mostly students, a senior Interior Ministry official said. The official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that most of the casualties were students coming out of the Sayed ul Shuhada school. Source
  • At least 30 killed in bomb blast near girls' school in Afghan capital

    World News CBC News
    Multiple blasts targeted a school in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Saturday, killing at least 40 people and wounding dozens more, mostly students, a senior Interior Ministry official said. The official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that most of the casualties were students coming out of the Sayed ul Shuhada school. Source
  • Quebec COVID-19 hospitalizations drop by 27, province adds 958 new cases

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Quebec reported Saturday that 958 more people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections since the start of the pandemic to 357,174. Of those, 337,538 people are reported to have recovered from the disease, an increase of 1,033. Source
  • Birthday at skate park brings unwelcome $880 fine for Ottawa teen's family

    Canada News CBC News
    An Ottawa family says they were shocked to receive an $880 fine days after letting their 14-year-old son use a nearby skateboarding park on his birthday. Merrick Batstone's family decided to celebrate his 14th birthday on May 3 by visiting Legacy Skatepark to enjoy some fresh air and exercise. Source
  • Bomb kills at least 25 near girls' school in Afghan capital

    World News CTV News
    KABUL -- A bomb exploded near a girl's school in a majority Shiite district of west Kabul on Saturday, killing at least 25 people, many them young pupils between 11 and 15 years old, Afghan government spokesmen said. Source