Future Climate Change, Sea-Level Rise, and Ocean Acidification: Implications for Hawaii and Western Pacific Fisheries Management

images[1]The culture, subsistence, and welfare of tropical Pacific Island Nation people are all in some way tied to their proximate fishery resources. Many of these fisheries are already under considerable stress and duress due to human practices such as overfishing, pollution and runoff, habitat destruction and degradation, lack of proper management protocols, and coastal and global population pressures. Other human activities such as fossil fuel use, deforestation and changes in land use and consequent emissions of gases and particulates, such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, methane, etc., to the atmosphere are contributing to alteration of the global climate by a general overall warming of the planetary atmosphere. The warming of the overlying atmosphere in turn warms the underlying surface ocean. In addition to the surface ocean warming, there is also the problem of ocean acidification owing to absorption of anthropogenic carbon dioxide by the surface waters of the ocean. This input of atmospheric carbon dioxide into the surface ocean reduces the surface water pH, which is detrimental to calcifying organisms such as those that are integral to coral reefs or the planktonic calcareous coccolithophoridae and foraminifera. Climate change and ocean acidification both have the capacity to impact simultaneously all organism trophic levels and so the possible negative ramifications can and should not be underestimated.

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Personal Author F. T. Mackenzie M. W. Guidry