Catastrophe in our oceans

In my last post I looked at the loss of funding from marine research. In this post I thought I would continue on the marine theme, and look at the reasons why we really need funding for marine research.

The marine headline for the week was the decline of 50% of the coral in the Great Barrier Reef – front page news on The Age on Friday. Many marine issues are making news headlines. Globally, there has been much reporting about the decline of north sea Cod populations, and how sadly there may only be 100 fish left!

The other article that featured with the coral article was a fisheries related article.

This actually made page two of The Age, which I was so excited about initially, but then I remembered what was said in our lectures, people always look past page 2…Luckily there was a pretty picture on page two which I hope kept readers engaged!!

The article reported on a paper published this week that showed the effects of decreased carbon dioxide content in the water affecting fish sizes. Mathematical modelling was used in the study published by the journal Nature Climate Change, however, if there is no follow up by monitoring, there will be a knowledge gap about how climate change is affecting our fisheries.

Decline in Atlantic Snapper Size. Source
[Decline in South Atlantic Red Snapper Size. Source]

Previously, scientists have reported on a decrease in overall fish size due to overfishing. Put these two ideas together, and you’re really going for catastrophe – collapse, extinction and loss of the fishing industry.

Add in a potential migration of fish away from the equator, and concerns about ability of fish species to adapt. All hell breaks loose in our oceans, it would be a major factor for all species survival if there was a major shift in sea temperatures.

With more knowledge about how dangerous predicted risks to marine life posed by climate change will be, it is now more important than ever to understand how fish populations operate. Fisheries globally have been overfished to the brink of extinction. Valuable species such as Southern Blue Fin Tuna have been listed on the IUCN Red List.

Many of the stocks around Australia, and specifically Port Phillip Bay are of commercial value, it is so important that we do not loose our fish stocks. King George Whiting, Snapper, Abalone, Southern Rock Lobster, Murray cod, Bass and so on are just a few of the species that are valuable to the Victorian economy. Abalone alone is worth 21 million dollars to the Victorian economy.

I would hate to see us loose this value to the Victorian economy because of a lack of funding. I would hate to see the intrinsic values of healthy ecosystems lost. I would hate to see this happen all around Australia due to lack of science research funding.

Can you imagine if in 2020, reports were saying there was only 25% of our coral cover was remaining in the Great Barrier Reef? A decline that has already been flagged by scientific research. We have a huge role in preventing this decline getting to 25% because of the knowledge we have.

The world media is reporting on fisheries and marine research, but if all research is unspecific to Victorian systems, in a short time frame we could loose control of our fisheries.

To be a little bit provocative about Victorian research….Without more research, we will be poorly placed as a state to stop a future headline of  “Victorian fish populations collapse”.

More scientific research in all areas is required to inform appropriate management of natural ecosystems, without it we are playing russian roulette with our environment.

Further reading:
Link to Nature Climate Change article, Cheung et al 2012

I’ve got a number of articles in my collection which I am drawing from here, but I need to find their direct links again. I can provide them to you if you’re interested.

2 Responses to “Catastrophe in our oceans”

  1. Amanda says:

    Thanks for your comment Rachael.
    Really appreciate you taking the time to read and understand the issues involved with a loss of funding!

  2. Rachael Hillier says:

    A motivational piece! I never understood how much money we had just in our Victorian marine life!
    What is the government thinking? I think it’s about time they woke up to this loss of intrinsic values.

    Great article, I couldn’t stop reading it once I started 🙂