Chile, Ecuador and Peru could see lower productivity in fisheries and a higher frequency of El Niño and La Niña events, due to the impact of climate change on the Humboldt current, according to an FAO study released on Tuesday.
In recent decades, the ecosystem of the Humboldt Current (SCH), located in the Pacific Ocean, produced more fish per unit area than any other marine system. But a warmer climate could imply major alterations in fisheries regimes and a decrease in plankton.
“The potential consequences are considerable and countries should consider a series of policy changes to address them,” said the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The FAO stressed that a tighter control over the fishery and a reduction of its extraction capacities, especially of marine fisheries, could have a negative social effect in the short term, but they are indispensable measures to safeguard long-term sustainability.
According to the study, in the SCH system fish productivity is mainly controlled by climate, and its effects on the production of phytoplankton, which is the basis of any marine food chain.
The text added that a general decrease in the abundance of phytoplankton and zooplankton is projected for SCH, as a result of a large-scale depletion of nutrients in subsurface water, due to a warmer climate.
“The average extension of the zooplankton-rich area is expected to decrease by approximately 33 percent in the north and central zones of the SCH, and about 14 percent in the south of the marine system,” the report said.
FAO emphasized that participatory governance systems should be institutionalized, specialized scientific studies promoted and monitoring improved, which would increase the capacity of small-scale fisheries to adapt to climate change. (I)