Low Oxygen Threatens Fish and Humans

Low Oxygen Threatens Fish and Humans

Sea and climate have been one of the themes for this year’s COP25 climate summit, which had to be moved to Madrid quickly due to the situation in Chile. This weekend, the International Conservation Union, IUCN released a report on the loss of oxygen in the seas.

Lack of oxygen in the sea threatens fish species and marine life, and has far-reaching effects on ecosystems. The Ocean Deoxygenation Research Report: Everyone’s Problem, is the largest study to date of causes, effects, and possible solutions to ocean deficiencies. The problem was also addressed by the latest IPCC report on the seas and the frozen areas.

Living sea and sustainable fishing are becoming even more important in light of the impact of climate change. For species such as tuna and swordfish, some of the most beloved food fishermen worldwide, lack of oxygen and pollution from, for example, agriculture, sewage and aquaculture is a major threat. These large predatory fish are especially sensitive because of their energy needs. The fishermen are looking for shallower surface water where the oxygen-rich water accumulates, which makes them more vulnerable to overfishing. Very low oxygen in the ocean can also affect basic processes such as nitrogen and phosphorus uptake, something that is vital to life on Earth, the report warns.

As the seas change, the fish often turn to colder and more oxygen-rich waters. This has major consequences for people living with fishing. We can also see that conflicts over how the quotas of fisheries should be divided among the coastal states are increasing. An important role will then be to facilitate dialogue and get major players to prioritize sustainable fishing. When the mackerel certificate was suspended earlier this fall precisely because of management conflicts, major dealers in the EU for the first time joined in a call, demanding that the coastal states agree so that the mackerel fishery can be certified again. Traditionally, it has been the environmental movement that has driven sustainability requirements towards the states, and now influential companies also have to push those issues. It’s inspiring to see. The climate issue raises the question of people’s ability to cooperate and find solutions together at their forefront.

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