Climate change will make world too hot for 60 per cent of fish species

Climate change will make world too hot for 60 per cent of fish species

SOURCE: New Scientist DATE: July 2, 2020 SNIP: Fish are at a far greater risk from climate change than previously thought, as researchers have shown that embryos and spawning adults are more susceptible to warming oceans. In a worst-case scenario of 5°C of global warming, up to 60 per cent of fish species around the world would be unable to cope with temperatures in their geographical range by 2100, when different stages of their lives are taken into consideration. Even if humanity meets the Paris deal’s tough goal of holding warming to 1.5°C, it would be too hot for 10 per cent of fish. Previously, we thought that just 5 per cent of fish species would struggle to cope with 5°C of global warming, but that was based on analysis of adult fish alone. Previous analysis has focused very little on life stages, but the team took into account differences between spawning and non-spawning adults, larvae and embryos. Spawners and embryos were found to cope with a much smaller gap between minimum and maximum temperatures, on average 7.2°C and 8.4°C respectively, than the 27.5°C range for adults. The greater vulnerability for embryos and reproductive adults is a “major cause for concern”, said Jennifer Sunday at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, who wasn’t involved the study, in a commentary in the journal Science. The main reason why embryos and spawners are less tolerant of warming oceans is down to their greater oxygen needs. Oxygen is more soluble in colder waters and less so in warmer ones. Unfortunately, seas are expected to warm too quickly for evolutionary adaptation. While fish can...
B.C. First Nations say sea lice spreading from fish farms to wild salmon

B.C. First Nations say sea lice spreading from fish farms to wild salmon

SOURCE: CTV News DATE: June 26, 2020 SNIP: The First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC), which represents First Nations from across the province, is calling for an end to open net-pen salmon farming in B.C. The FNLC says that among its chief concerns is that farmed salmon may be spreading sea lice to salmon stocks throughout B.C.’s waters, which is lethal to juvenile wild salmon. While the leadership council acknowledges that there are other contributing factors to a decline in salmon stocks over the past several years, the FNLC cites a study conducted by the Cohen Commission which recommends shutting down net-pen fish farms in the Discovery Islands if they pose a health risk to wild salmon. The DFO says that if net-pen salmon farms in the Discovery Islands are scientifically proven to “pose more than a minimal risk of serious harm” to wild fish stocks, then fish farms in the area will be required to close. The FNLC says that now is the time for the DFO to take action, as a recent report published by fish farm companies Mowi, Cermaq and Grieg suggest that sea lice is now appearing in farmed salmon at rates that exceed limits imposed by the government. “We have known for years that open net-pen salmon farming is one of the main contributors to the massive decline in wild salmon stocks in this province,” said BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Terry Teegee. “The federal and provincial governments have been taking a piecemeal approach to this problem, with long timeframes for transition to closed containment pens, and only in a few places. We...
Alarm Bells Ring in a Whale Habitat Famed for its Silence

Alarm Bells Ring in a Whale Habitat Famed for its Silence

SOURCE: Hakai Magazine DATE: February 3, 2020 SNIP: The fjords that etch out British Columbia’s central coast are deep, cold, and mostly very quiet—the perfect habitat for whales. The territory of the Gitga’at First Nation, situated around Douglas Channel, is home to the country’s highest concentration of humpback and fin whales, two distinct populations of killer whales, as well as Pacific white-sided dolphins, Dall’s porpoises, and more. “Humpback and fin whales think they have found heaven,” says Janie Wray, CEO of the nonprofit North Coast Cetacean Society (NCCS). “It’s one of the quietest places around.” But this oasis of calm is under threat. In 2018, work began on a CAN $40-billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in Kitimat, at the head of the Douglas Channel. Once operational, the plant will export 18 million tonnes of LNG every year. It’s one of more than a dozen LNG export projects under development in the region as Canada bids to establish itself as a major supplier to Asia. Sixteen Indigenous nations signed off on the Kitimat facility and its pipeline, though not without controversy. Because natural gas evaporates when spilled, it is seen as a less contentious product than oil to transport through their territories. Currently, a large ship passes through Douglas Channel once every two or three days. But a fleet of carriers will be needed to transport the fuel from the facility to markets in Asia. Eric Keen, codirector of science at NCCS,* estimates that the Kitimat facility will add 1,500 transits every year—an average of four extra trips per day. Traffic from small recreational vessels such as fishing boats...
Will the Extinction of Delta Smelt Be Governor Gavin Newsom’s Environmental Legacy?

Will the Extinction of Delta Smelt Be Governor Gavin Newsom’s Environmental Legacy?

SOURCE: CounterPunch DATE: January 24, 2020 SNIP: The Delta smelt, once the most abundant species on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, continues its steep slide towards extinction. For the second year in a row, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in its annual fall midwater trawl survey in 2019 found zero Delta smelt during the months of September, October, November and December. Found only in the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary, the smelt is an indicator species that shows the health of the ecosystem. Decades of water exports and environmental degradation under the state and federal governments have brought the smelt to the edge of extinction. In spite of portraying their administrations as “green,” Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom have done nothing that reverses the smelt’s path towards extinction. Instead, the Schwarzenegger, Brown and Newsom administrations have overseen massive exports of Delta water to San Joaquin Valley corporate agribusiness operations and Southern California water brokers. Meanwhile, the Trump administration recently finalized a water plan that threatens the Delta smelt, salmon and other fish species even more than they already are by maximizing Delta water exports to agribusiness interests in the San Joaquin Valley. The Delta smelt, Longfin smelt, Sacramento splittail, striped bass, American shad and threadfin shad are are all victims of the Pelagic Organism Decline, first coined by federal state and scientists to document the steep decline of pelagic (open water) fish and zooplankton in 2005. Scientists have pointed to Delta water export operations, toxics, invasive species and pollution as the key factors in this decline. “Given the wet year we experienced in 2019, the...
Nearly 20,000 non-native salmon escaped after fire at B.C. fish farm

Nearly 20,000 non-native salmon escaped after fire at B.C. fish farm

SOURCE: BC CTV News DATE: December 22, 2019 SNIP: Most of the 21,000 Atlantic salmon that were in a Vancouver Island fish farm pen damaged by fire have escaped, the company who operates the farm confirmed Sunday. The breach happened on Friday, but on Saturday the company, Mowi, was still inspecting the damage and couldn’t yet confirm the number of fish that had made their way out of the pen and into the ocean near Port Hardy. The news that most of the fish did indeed escape has confirmed the worst fears of wild salmon advocate Tavish Campbell, who flew over the fish farm site on Saturday and took photos and video. “My heart just sank,” Campbell said of the moment when he saw the collapsed pen. Dr. Diane Morrison, managing director of Mowi Canada West, said she and the company are profoundly sorry the incident happened, because the public is so concerned about farmed Atlantic salmon getting into the ocean. But, she said, studies suggest there is a low risk of Atlantic salmon swimming into B.C. rivers to spawning grounds in large numbers, and “an even lower risk of them establishing successful populations.” Scientists and First Nations have become increasingly concerned about the sharp decline in B.C.’s wild salmon populations. This year, DFO forecast 4.7 million salmon would return to the Fraser River; just 600,000 – or 13 per cent of the original forecast – showed up. Campbell said that with wild B.C. salmon struggling with sharply declining populations, the escape of thousands of non-native salmon is a concern. “These are an exotic species that don’t belong in...