Climate Change Could Lead to Significant Loss of Seafood Nutrients in Low-Income Countries

Low-income countries could experience a loss of up to 30 percent of essential nutrients from seafood due to climate change, according to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. These nutrients, including calcium, iron, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, are at risk of depletion, especially in scenarios with high emissions and low mitigation efforts.

Paris Agreement Mitigation Targets

The study suggests that limiting global warming to the targets set by the Paris Agreement (1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius) could reduce nutrient loss to around 10 percent. Meeting these targets is crucial for preserving the nutritional value of seafood, particularly in regions where seafood plays a vital role in combating malnutrition.

Vulnerability of Low-Income Countries

Low-income countries, particularly in the global south, are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change on seafood nutrients. These regions rely on seafood as a dietary staple, making them highly susceptible to nutrient depletion. The study highlights the disproportionate impact of climate change on these nations.

Research Methodology

The researchers used predictive climate models and historical fisheries and seafood farming data to project future nutrient quantities in seafood. They focused on four key nutrients abundant in seafood and essential for human health.

Stagnation and Decline

Despite seafood farming and invertebrate fishing efforts, the availability of these nutrients plateaued in the 2010s after peaking in the 1990s. The study predicts a further decline in nutrient availability from seafood catches in the future.

Impact on Specific Nutrients

Calcium is expected to experience the most significant decline, with projections ranging from 15 to 40 percent by 2100 under different emissions scenarios. Omega-3 fatty acids are also at risk, with expected decreases of approximately five to 25 percent.

Regional Disparities

Tropical waters in lower-income nations, such as Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, and Sierra Leone, are projected to face steeper declines in nutrient availability compared to higher-income, non-tropical regions like Canada, the US, and the UK.

Global Trends

Globally, the study anticipates a decrease of four to seven percent in nutrient availability from seafood for each degree Celsius of warming. However, low-income tropical countries may experience declines two to three times higher, at nearly 10 to 12 percent per unit of warming.



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