Climate change hits UK sea life- report

Climate change is seriously disturbing the natural balance of the marine environment off UK shores, damaging the biodiversity and commercial productivity of the seas, a Government report has found.

Higher sea surface temperatures are driving plankton, fish and seabirds northwards, and although the exact effects on the marine eco-system as a whole are not known the changes are already affecting the entire marine area around the UK. The damage is expected to get worse with time, the report said.

Climate Change Minister, Ian Pearson, said: “Climate change is the biggest environmental issue the world faces, on land and at sea. Our seas play a vital role in shaping and regulating our climate and have a tremendous bearing on our future wellbeing.

“Rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification and melting polar ice are not just predictions, they are happening now.

“This Report Card contains some disturbing facts, showing that climate change is already having a noticeable impact on marine species from plankton to seabirds.”

More research into how the complex web of species in the marine eco-system will be affected by changes to particular plants or animals is needed, the minister said:

“There is a lot we still do not understand about the impact climate change will have on our oceans, but the Report Card gives us at a glance the latest scientific knowledge which will improve our understanding and our capacity to act.”

Even where measurement methods are well developed, such as in pollution monitoring, these were not designed to function in a warming world and need to be adapted to detect the impacts of climate change, said the report, which was produced by the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership – a coalition of academics, NGOs and Government actors.

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Goska Romanowicz

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