Climate change threatens food security of many fish dependent nations

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Millions of people, in countries all over the world, might face a heightened risk of malnutrition, as climate change threatens their local fisheries.

New projections, involving more than 800 fish species in over 157 countries, have highlighted how two major and growing stresses, caused by climate change and overfishing, might be affecting the availability of vital micronutrients from our oceans.

Together with omega-3 fatty acids, fish is also a vital source of iron, zinc, calcium and vitamin A.

A shortage of these vital micronutrients is associated with diseases such as maternal mortality, growth disturbances and preeclampsia.

Climate change tends to put micronutrient sources in fisheries at risk among the countries that include East Asian and Pacific countries like Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Timor-Leste, and Sub-Saharan Africa such as Mozambique and Sierra Leone.

Dr Eva Maire from Lancaster University and principal author on the study said: "As climate change and over-fishing are significant and growing pressures on global fish stocks, it is essential for the dietary requirements of millions of people to know the extent that these pressures will have on the availability of micronutrients in our seas in the future.

Some countries might be able to adjust their fishing practices to move away from endangered species to alternative micronutrient-rich species which, while resistant to both climate change and overfishing, are currently underrepresented within catches.

Yet the results of the study provide a silver lining that holds out hope for the future.