As patio season approaches, people are anticipating their first meals in the warm sun. Raw oysters, grilled salmon steak, or creamy seafood linguine are just a few of the tasty dishes Toronto restaurants may serve. These examples all featurefish and seafood ingredients that form part of a multi-billion dollar industry in the Canadian economy. But as a consequence of climate change, these organisms are struggling to survive in their changing environment putting Canada’s fishing industry at risk.
Canadian fish and seafood products are sold on the domestic and international markets and harvested in a variety of ways: aquaculture, commercial freshwater and sea fisheries, and recreational fishing. In 2017, Canada generated more than $6.8 billion from the export of fish and seafood. Canada produced enough fish and seafood products in 2018 to provide every Canadian with 8.77 kilograms of food.
In 2016, commercial fisheries in the Atlantic region alone generated almost $2.95 billion in fresh- and saltwater landings, 87 per cent of Canada’s total value ($3.38 billion) for that year.
However, these bountiful harvests may be in jeopardy. Human induced climate change can damage ocean ecosystems in two ways: ocean warming due to rising temperatures and ocean acidification due to increased volumes of carbon dioxide dissolving into the water. As the consequences of climate change worsen, we may see a decline in the populations of the organisms we harvest, leading to a decrease in fishery revenue and the potential collapse of the ocean ecosystem.