Ocean acidification threatens fisheries, says UNEP
[CANCUN, MEXICO] The oceans are acidifying at probably the fastest rate for 65 million years — with unknown implications for the three billion people who depend on fish for protein, a report released at the 2010 UN Climate Change Conference (COP 16), in Mexico has said.
Rising CO2 emissions, a quarter of which eventually dissolve in the oceans to produce carbonic acid, have caused a 30 per cent drop in ocean pH values, reflecting an increase in ocean acidity, according to the report, produced by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
"If we go on at the same rate we will have a 120 per cent increase in acidity by the end of the century," said Carol Turley, the report's lead author and knowledge exchange coordinator at the UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme.
The report reviewed scientific literature and found that the effects of acidification on the food chain are still unclear, and more research is needed.
But it outlined many potential threats.
Acidification can reduce the growth and affect the development of smaller fish. For example, it can impair orientation and sense of smell in young clownfish, making them more vulnerable to predators.