Nfld. & Labrador

Climate change could ruin fisheries: scientist

Climate change could cause more harm to fish stocks — and the coastal communities who depend on them — than excessive harvesting, a globally recognized scientists warns.

Climate change could cause more harm to fish stocks— and the coastal communitiesthat depend on them— than excessive harvesting, a globally recognized scientist warns.

"One thing is clear: in the long run, environmental change must be considered more serious, more threatening than overfishing," George Rose told a St. John's business group Thursday.

Rose, who holds a research chair in fisheries science at Memorial University of Newfoundland, is a member of the international panel on climate change studying the effects on northern fisheries.

Rose said effects of climate change may ultimately become too great to change.

"Overfishing— at least theoretically, if we did the right things, which we often don't—[can] be reversed. Environmental change of the scale possible through global warming cannot,"he told a St. John's Rotary Club meeting.

Rose said it's not clear whether Newfoundland and Labrador will even get warmer or colder in the years ahead.

"There's some evidence that our region could be a temporary heat sink, because of the melting of the ice in Greenland and the High Arctic in Canada— that we will in fact get colder for a time as the rest of the Northern Hemisphere warms," he said.

In the long run, however, ocean waters are bound to get warmer, which could spell trouble for lucrative fisheries that are key to Canada's seafood industry.

"In simple terms, cold-loving animals are going to lose," he said. "Those include snow crab and shrimp, so they are kind of on notice right now."

Rose said dramatic changes, particularly in how energy is used, are needed. He called for a phase-out of the oil-burning electrical generation station at Holyrood, near St. John's.