Tale/innlegg | Dato: 18.04.2008
Fiskeri- og kystminister Helga Pedersens tale på konferansen Fisheries Management and Climate Change in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic Sea. På vegne av Fiskeri- og kystdepartementet, Nordisk Ministerråd og EU-kommisjonen arrangerer Havforskningsinstituttet en internasjonal konferanse om hvilke utfordringer klimaendringene kan skape for fiskeriforvaltningen.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a great pleasure for me to open this conference on Fisheries Management and Climate Change.
Apart from a diminishing handful of sceptics, there is a worldwide scientific consensus on the scope of the problem, signalizing the following facts:
• climate change is driven by human activity
• climate change is affecting our environment
• climate change requires urgent action
The Government has stated that Norway shall take responsibility and press for a more comprehensive and ambitious climate agreement to succeed the Kyoto. Norway will participate in reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases.
According to meteorological and oceanographic data, an ongoing climate change is increasingly evident also in our marine environment:
• the sea temperature is increasing
• the sea level may rise
• Arctic sea ice is likely to disappear
• weather patterns will become more extreme
Climate change will affect the physical, biological and biochemical characters of the oceans. These changes will become an issue for fisheries, aquaculture and related industry along our coast.
The rapid change, which may be unpredictable in detail, implies that marine policies and fisheries management increasingly must change to adaptive approaches. The approaches have important implications for decision making and its scientific underpinning.
It therefore pleases me that the Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal affairs, the EU Commission, Directorate General for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, and the Nordic Council of Ministers together have taken the initiative to prepare the fisheries management authorities for the coming implications of climate change.
There are obvious relationships between climate change and variations in fish stocks.
We do know that the occurring climate change will affect the recruitment, growth and distribution of fish stocks.
We do not know whether the effects may be positive or negative, but either way, they are difficult to quantify.
In the Barents Sea fish stocks are expected to expand their feeding grounds towards the northeast. An influx species like mackerel may lead to competition for food with capelin and herring.
In the North Sea an increase in temperature could lead to the migration of species from more southern waters. Sardines and anchovies may become more common. The total amount of fish may not necessarily decrease, but changes could nevertheless affect the commercial value of catches.
The balance of species within the domain of the regional fisheries management organization may shift, and thus it will be an open question if present shares amongst states shall be maintained or will have to be renegotiated. This is only one of many emerging management challenges.
Climate changes will also pose challenges for the aquaculture industry. Unlike wild fish, farmed fish are unable to avoid climate change by changing their distribution pattern.
Diseases in our aquaculture production traditionally occur during summer and early autumn. An increase in sea temperature therefore affects the likelihood of diseases. Fish health and welfare will therefore represent new scientific challenges.
It is therefore important to fisheries management to secure our domesticated species an optimum environment. If this is not possible, current sites may have to be reconsidered due to temperature increase, but also due to more extreme weather conditions.
With this in mind, it is very important to maintain and strengthen focus on preventing escape in the aquaculture industry.
Coastal communities and fish industry
New species in fisheries, aquaculture and the related land-based fish processing industry are giving rise to a new situation and challenges related to reorganization.
More extreme weather conditions may also affect the safety of fishers and those who tend to fish farms. If coastal stocks move to more open waters, this will obviously have consequences for smaller vessels. This may lead to unstable supplies to the fish processing industry and thereby less work for employees.
Climate changes will therefore affect people and businesses along the coast. The necessary adaptations will be costly for businesses and individuals in the shape of investments in equipment, training and marketing.
But - just as science and technology has given us the evidence to measure the danger of climate changes, it may also help us find solutions to the problem.
With regards to developing opportunities for carbon binding and renewable energy, we may exploit the huge expanse of the ocean.
The content of nutrients in the coastal current may be used to cultivate organisms related to carbon binding and the production of bio-energy.
With the right framework for action, may be combined with economic activity and industrial development along our coast.
But - We have to emphasize actions. Action is the cure, and adaptation is only a painkiller. With such focus we can help to secure our environment, biodiversity, the small communities and related infrastructure - not only in Norway, but throughout the coastal communities of the world.
While we are awaiting such a deal, everybody needs to think seriously, not only about adaptation, but also prevention, that means substantial cuts in emissions.
The question is what we can do to reduce CO2 emissions. In the fisheries and aquaculture sector it is primarily the fishing fleet that is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions.
These emissions are in percentage small, but they are possible to reduce. It concerns small and large changes – better propellers, optimum speeds, energy recycling, developments in fisheries technology, ship designs and alternative fuel, such as gas.
It is therefore very encouraging that the fishers’ special interest organizations in Norway have taken the initiative to cooperate with the ministry on solutions that can reduce fuel consumption and thereby stimulate reductions in emissions from the fishing fleet.
By reducing greenhouse gas emissions we do not only have the opportunity to slow global warming, we also have the opportunity to satisfy the increase in demand for climate friendly products.
Surveys in Sweden and Great Britain show that a majority of consumers prefer products with ecolabels. In the ecolabel category the “carbon footprint” of products has also become a concept.
I believe that fish, caught with environmentally friendly vessels and equipment, will compare well to other products. Products from fishing vessels and fish farms that can document low emissions may have competitive advantages in markets that are increasingly environmentally conscious on climate friendly behaviour.
No one can be certain about the future. Uncertainty therefore poses great challenges to finding a basis for good decisions. Fisheries management must contribute to this basis by continuing the long term monitoring of the environment and resources.
The Norwegian fishery management is based on such monitoring and related approved research activity. Viewed in this light, we can adapt to the coming changes
The objectives shall continue to be ecosystem-based management and sustainable harvesting of our resources both under existing and future climate regimes.
We therefore need your experience, ideas and initiatives to address our common challenge – together. This conference and your contribution is very important.
Good luck! I wish you fruitful discussions.
Thank you for your attention.