If the countries that signed the Paris Agreement limit global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, there could be an unexpected benefit: global fish catches would go up by six million metric tons per year. That figure comes from a new study by University of British Columbia scientists, published in the journal Science.
Currently, the nations involved in the Paris Agreement have pledged carbon goals that would stop global temperature rise at 3.5 degrees Celsius. Scientists used computer models to compare this expected goal to the agreement’s more ambitious 1.5 C cap, simulating the effect different temperatures would have on global fisheries. Their findings? For every degree Celsius that temperatures were lowered, potential fish catches increased – by more than three million metric tons each year. Compare that to today’s global fish catch: 109 million metric tons per year.
The reason for the difference is that oceans in tropical regions are more sensitive to changes in temperature – higher global temperatures would significantly decrease the amount of fish in regions like the Indo-Pacific. (However, high temperatures would be a boon to the Arctic region’s fish supplies. The only problem would be the devastating impact lost sea ice would have on the ecosystem.)
The study highlights just how important it is that all of the countries currently pledged to the Paris Agreement honor their commitments. If just one large carbon-emitting country were to drop out, it could drastically reduce the agreement’s effectiveness and the health of our oceans. With Donald Trump expressing an interest in pulling the US out of the agreement, it’s now more important than ever to demand strong action on climate change.