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Climate change impact on Canada's Pacific marine ecosystem: The current state of knowledge

Talloni-Álvarez, Nicolás E., et al. “Climate Change Impact on Canada's Pacific Marine Ecosystem: The Current State of Knowledge.” Marine Policy, vol. 104, no. June 2019, pp. 163–176., doi:
Year Published
Marine Policy

Abstract: Global warming is already affecting the oceans through changes in water temperature, acidification, oxygen content and sea level rise, amongst many others. These changes are having multiple effects on marine species worldwide, with subsequent impacts on marine fisheries, peoples' livelihoods and food security. This work presents a review of the recent literature on the current and projected impacts of climate change on Canada's Pacific marine ecosystem. We find that there is an increasing number of studies in British Columbia focusing on changes in ocean conditions and marine species responses under climate change, including an emerging literature on the socio-economic impacts of these changes considered to be a knowledge gap. According to the literature, it is well established that ocean temperatures are increasing over the long-term, especially, in southern areas of British Columbia. Warming trends are increasing in the spring and are strongest in summer. However, there are important uncertainties regarding other climate drivers, such as oxygen concentration and acidification, stemming mainly from the insufficiency of data. Pacific salmon, elasmobranchs, invertebrates and rockfishes are amongst the most vulnerable species groups to climate change in British Columbia. Also, shifts in stock distribution and fish abundance under climate change may have a significant impact on fish supply affecting the livelihoods and food security of some British Columbians. The magnitude of these impacts is likely to vary according to a latitudinal gradient, with southern coastal areas being more affected than northern and central areas; challenging multiple areas of governance, such as equity and fishing access amongst First Nations; and institutional arrangements for transboundary stocks between the U.S. and Canada.