If Mexican fisheries do not adapt to climate change, the number of fish caught is set to tumble, with catch numbers for Pacific abalone, jumbo squid and mahi-mahi possibly plunging more than 30% over the next 30 years in Mexico, according to a study published on Wednesday.
Co-authored by the New York-based Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the study found that 84% of 25 species analyzed will suffer as ocean waters grow warmer, hurting an industry that supports some 240,000 people and their families in a country that ranks no. 16 among the world’s seafood producers.
“Any way you look at it, our oceans are changing,” said Laura Rodriguez, an EDF associate vice president who co-authored the peer-reviewed report published in science journal PLOS ONE. “The single most important thing you can do is to implement sustainable fisheries management starting now.”
Left to their own devices, some species will migrate to escape hotter temperatures, while fish unable to do so are likely to die, Rodriguez said.
Without sustainable management, Mexican fishers three decades from now would see their maximum potential catch drop as much as 44%, as in the case of pacific abalone. Pacific sardine, pelagic red crab, jumbo squid and mahi-mahi would all see their maximum catch decrease by more than 30%, the study found.
Rodriguez said a fourth of Mexico’s fisheries were certified sustainable, but others lacked the protocols to handle changing conditions.
Mexico’s government has not effectively implemented sustainable fishing practices, the report said, and laws in top fishing states of Baja California, Sinaloa, Sonora and Veracruz do not mandate adaptation strategies.
Still, proper management, such as cutting back on fishing a depleted stock, would lead to “better economic and conservation outcomes,” it said.
Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Mexico’s National Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture, co-wrote the report with the EDF.