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Climate change threat to Australian fisheries.

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PW 205/08 6 October 2008


Projected changes in temperature, ocean currents, rainfall and extreme weather events due to climate change are likely to significantly influence fish stocks and marine ecosystems, a new report shows.

Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Penny Wong, released the CSIRO Implications of Climate Change for Australian Fisheries and Aquaculture report in Sydney today.

“The report is a preliminary assessment of the challenges posed by climate change to Australia’s $2.1 billion commercial fishing and aquaculture industry,” Senator Wong said.

“The report finds climate change is likely to affect not only the fishing industry itself, but also the regional and coastal communities the industry supports.

“It finds climate change impacts will vary by region and that many impacts are expected to be negative, with some data suggesting that effects may have already occurred.

“But the report finds there may be new opportunities for some wild fisheries where tropical species shift southward.”

Senator Wong said the report was another reminder of the need to tackle climate change through reducing carbon pollution.

“The Rudd Government is currently working on the final design of our Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, to be released in a White Paper by the end of the year.”

Report findings of the potential impact of climate change on Australian fisheries include: • Spread of the long-spined sea urchin south along the east coast of Tasmania, with serious implications for the Tasmanian rock lobster and abalone fisheries which together were worth over $150 million in 2004-05. • Considerable impacts on northern Australian prawn fisheries (worth $73 million in 2004-


• Impacts on coral reefs, such as an increased incidence of coral bleaching, which will have flow-on effects for fisheries based on reef-associated species, such as coral trout and red emperor. • Adverse impacts on catches of barramundi, prawns and mud crabs in the northern fisheries

through changes in rainfall patterns.

The report is available from

Media Contact: Ilsa Colson 0418 368 639