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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Climate change impacts on Canadian fishing and seafood supply Talloni-Álvarez, Nicolás Ernesto


Climate change is already affecting ocean conditions, including warming, acidification, deoxygenation and sea-level rise. These changes are affecting marine species globally, with subsequent impacts on marine fisheries, peoples’ livelihoods, and food security. The magnitude of these changes are more prevalent in developing nations and tropical countries, yet the risk of climate impacts on developed nations is not negligible. Shifts in stock distribution and fish abundance under climate change could impact seafood available to Indigenous peoples and tens of thousands of other Canadians. Achieving the Paris Agreement target of limiting atmospheric warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels could mitigate projected declines in fish biomass, with benefits for ocean life, economies and people. In this work, I conduct a systematic literature review on the impacts of climate change on Canada's Pacific marine ecosystems and fisheries, highlighting its critical effects on them. I then examine climate impacts on Canada’s marine fisheries and seafood supply under two greenhouse gas emissions scenarios that correspond to alternative futures with global warming of 1.5° and 3.5°C relative to pre-industrial levels. Finally, I conduct a semi-quantitative assessment of the effectiveness of ocean-based solutions in British Columbia to mitigate climate change and reduce its impacts on the marine ecosystems and fisheries of the Province. My results indicate that the 1.5°C warming scenario could protect marine catches directed to Canada’s seafood supply by up to 11% and reduce Canadian household seafood expenditures by US$ 528 million annually, relative to a 3.5°C global warming scenario. The results also show that the full implementation of marine renewable energy in British Columbia could reduce GHG emissions by ~270 MT per year, filling the gap between current emissions and Canada’s Paris Agreement pledge to reduce emission by 30% below 2005 levels. While the effectiveness of marine renewables to reduce climate change depends on a global achievement of mitigation targets, solutions such as restoring vegetation, marine protected areas and pollution reduction show potential to address climate impacts locally (e.g., ocean acidification and sea-level rise). The findings offer evidence to support the benefits of carbon emissions mitigation in reducing seafood supply vulnerabilities to climate change.

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