Arctic's soaring CO2 leaves fish and hunters gasping for life
Greenhouse gases are making seawater toxic for many species of marine
life, warn experts
The Arctic Ocean is absorbing carbon dioxide at a far greater rate
than was previously thought, threatening fish stocks and the livelihoods
of indigenous peoples, a report suggests.
The surface, or top 100 metres, of the ocean is now about 35 percent
more acidic than it was at the start of the Industrial Revolution in the
late 18th century, with potentially huge implications for Arctic
The changing chemical make-up of the seawater threatens to wipe out
large numbers of herring, cod and capelin - a small fish largely used as
animal feed - as well as plankton and crabs.
This could affect the livelihoods of indigenous populations that rely
on fishing and hunting, for example, the Canadian Inuit, as well as
reducing food for birds and larger marine mammals such as walruses. The
acidification could also put further pressure on the rapidly diminishing
global supply of fish for human consumption. The report's lead author,
Richard Bellerby, of the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, told
The Independent: "Sea urchins, in particular, are very sensitive to
acidification and are a major food source for marine mammals like
walruses, as are some of the plankton, which are important food for
fish."This could have significant implications for large economically
important regions like the Canadian archipelago, the waters north of
Alaska and the Barents Sea."
Parnuna Egede, an adviser to the Greenland branch of the Inuit
Circumpolar Council, which represents the 160,000 Inuit people living in
Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Chukotka in Russia, said: "The Arctic
communities are extremely worried about the effects on our ecosystem
because we so deeply rely on the Arctic Ocean and its animals." The
Arctic Ocean takes in the coastlines of the US, Canada, Russia, Iceland,
Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland.
Among the world's seas it is particularly vulnerable to acidification
because of a "triple whammy" of conditions, said the report, to which 60
experts contributed. Recent trends that have resulted from global
warming have served to accelerate the process of acidification.
- The Independent