Stowaways Threaten Fisheries in the Arctic

The increased sea temperature expected in 2100 will in itself mean that the potential number of species introduced by ships will increase more than sixfold in the Norwegian Archipelago Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean. These are the findings of a new international study.

In the Arctic, the cold water has so far prevented harmful low latitude species from establishing themselves but this will change as the climate becomes warmer. In addition, the expected warmer climate will lead to an increasing number of ships in the Arctic as the routes through the Northeast Passage and the Northwest Passage are becoming ever more navigable. All in all the researchers expect a much greater pressure on the marine ecosystems of the Arctic, where fishing is very important for the population in e.g. Norway and Greenland.

An international team of researchers led by PhD candidate Chris Ware from the University of Tromsø in Norway has for the first time been able to calculate the risk of new species establishing themselves in Arctic waters. Specifically, the researchers have investigated the maritime traffic to Svalbard.

Chris Ware explains: “For the first time we have shown that in the future the port of departure will be more similar to the port of destination in the Arctic than it is today with regard to climate and the environment. This development will increase the chance of survival for those organisms that could arrive with ballast water or through biofouling.

The survey shows that up to one third of the 155 ships that entered the ports of Svalbard during 2011 came from ports that will in the future have an environmental match with Svalbard, thereby increasing the risk that harmful species, which may be brought in as stowaways on ships, will be able to establish themselves.

Source | The Fish Site

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