Health of Fish Stocks Contradict Climate Alarmists Predictions

By Vijay Jayaraj

The oceans are still very much a mystery to humankind, with a vast majority of it yet to be explored. Early in my career, I wanted to make an in-depth study of how climate affected marine life. After all, many media reports claimed that “oceans will become empty by 2048.”

So, as a graduate research assistant, I explored the adaptability of marine fish and invertebrates to fluctuations in ocean temperatures. I found that both are highly adaptable to changes in the water around them. That is the way they are made.

Now, evidence emerging from scientific studies shows that marine life may be benefiting from the relative warmth of modern temperatures.

Contrary to the hyperbole of climate reporters, there has been no alarming increase in global sea-surface temperatures. Even if temperatures increase substantially, fish are free to migrate to cooler waters and do, as documented by scientific studies.

Fish also have natural adaptive mechanisms. Since their initial emergence in Earth’s waters, fish have developed genetically in ways that allow them not only to survive but to thrive in a variety of environments. In addition to the generational genetic adaptability, fish also display short-term phenotypic plasticity which allows them to adapt to temperatures and other physical factors. When combined, these mechanisms act as significant protection against the ill-effects of the physical environment.

Despite this, it is not uncommon to see news of fisheries crashing under the weight of a climate crisis. However, real-world data contradict such negative reports, indicating instead that global fish catches will improve in the coming decades.

A 2016 scientific study “assembled the largest-of-its-kind database and coupled it to state-of-the-art bioeconomic models for more than 4,500 fisheries around the world.” The study found that global fisheries will profit from an increase in marine species. The degree of this commercial success will depend on a range of policy measures, including ones that enable increased catches for individuals and communities.

In 2020, there was a record 214 million tonnes of production from both wild catches and aquaculture. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022 report says that this production is expected to grow 14 percent by 2030. Fish are expected to become more affordable and accessible, with prices decreasing between 2024-2029, according to two international bodies: the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that published the data in Agricultural Outlook.

As of 2017, around 65% of fish stocks were biologically sustainable. An index of population health is maximum sustainable yield (MSY), which is the point at which the stock can sustain itself without limits on fishing. The MSY calculation involves collaborative information gathering by marine biologists and fishers.

The 2022 report states that the number of catches from biologically sustainable stocks has been on the rise! This signals that catches can be increased without depleting the stock to levels that neither the species nor continued fishing is at risk. While some concerns remain for a few species, studies show that in regions where we have high-quality population data, the majority of fish stocks are either stable or improving.

In short, any threat to future catches is not “empty” seas but rather the effect of activities such as illegal fishing and overfishing. Fish as an important protein source is likely to remain available in large quantities. Reality contradicts the fallacious climate crisis that dominates popular media and politics.

This commentary was first published in American Thinker on February 10, 2024.

Vijay Jayaraj is a Research Associate at the CO2 Coalition, Arlington, Virginia.  He holds a master’s degree in environmental sciences from the University of East Anglia, U.K.

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