Climate change to slash seafood nutrients by 30% in low-income countries

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The nutrients available from seafood could drop by 30 per cent for low-income countries by the end of the century due to climate change, suggests new UBC research.

United Kingdom News, United Kingdom Headlines

That's in a high carbon emissions and low mitigation scenario, according to the study published today in Nature Climate Change. This could be reduced to a roughly 10 per cent decline if the world were to meet the Paris Agreement targets of limiting global warming to 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius - which recent reports have shown we're not on track to achieve.

The researchers examined historical fisheries and seafood farming, or mariculture, databases including data from UBC's Sea Around Us to find out quantities of key nutrients that were available through fisheries and seafood farming in the past, and used predictive climate models to project these into the future.

"Small pelagic fish are really rich in calcium so in areas of the world where people have intolerances to milk or where other animal-sourced foods, like meat and dairy, are much more expensive, fish is really key to people's diets," said senior author Dr. Christina Hicks, professor at Lancaster University. "In many parts of the world, particularly low-income countries across the tropics, fish supply nutrients that are lacking in people's diets.

The availability of all four nutrients from tropical waters of generally lower income nations, such as Indonesia, the Solomon Islands and Sierra Leone, is projected to decline steeply by the end of the century under a high emissions scenario, compared with minimal declines in higher income, non-tropical waters, such as those of Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.

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