• A personal note on IGBP and the social sciences

    Humans are an integral component of the Earth system as conceptualised by IGBP. João Morais recalls key milestones in IGBP’s engagement with the social sciences and offers some words of advice for Future Earth.
  • IGBP and Earth observation:
    a co-evolution

    The iconic images of Earth beamed back by the earliest spacecraft helped to galvanise interest in our planet’s environment. The subsequent evolution and development of satellites for Earth observation has been intricately linked with that of IGBP and other global-change research programmes, write Jack Kaye and Cat Downy .
Published: April 1, 2009
First published in IGBP's Global Change Newsletter Issue 73, April 2009

Consequences of ocean acidification for fisheries

Jan Helge Fosså
Tore Jakobsen
Institute of Marine Research
Bergen, Norway

Richard Bellerby
Bjerknes Center for Climate Research
Bergen, Norway

Features |
The Ocean in a High-CO2 World: Science highlights from the symposium
Ocean acidification can affect fish both directly through physiological processes and indirectly through changes in the marine food webs, such as food quality, quantity and availability, and through the deterioration of fish habitats, such as tropical and deep-sea coral reefs. Alone, or in combination with other factors, ocean acidification can affect reproduction, growth and mortality in fish populations. Early life stages, hence recruitment of young fish into the fish stock, may be particularly vulnerable. This is bad news because recruitment governs the dynamics of fish stock biomass. Observations and model predictions of ocean acidification show that the changes occur faster and are stronger in high latitude oceans. This can have significant consequences on fisheries in the north Pacific and Atlantic that hold some of the most important fish stocks in the world, among them Alaska pollock, Atlantic herring, blue whiting, and north-eastern Arctic cod. The collapse of fish stocks is most likely to occur when overfishing coincides with unfavourable environmental conditions that reduce recruitment. Institutions responsible for fisheries management need to be adaptive and respond quickly to new environmental knowledge, enabling them to maintain healthy and robust fish stocks that are not overfished and have suffered a minimum loss of genetic diversity. This can secure a high potential for adaptation to changes in the environment.
Cod in a deep-water coral habitat at 200 m depth. The NE-Arctic cod stock is one of the few cod stocks that so far have not been fished down due to mismanagement. But problems may soon come: the cod lives in a high latitude ecosystem that will experience significant ocean acidification within a few decades. Modelling predicts that deep-water coral reefs off the coast of Norway may meet undersaturated conditions within this century.  
Photo: Jan Helge Fosså and Pål B. Mortensen, Institute of Marine Research, Norway.
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