The Arctic is one of the last original ecosystems that has so far not been commercially exploited to a significant extent. This is not the result of reason or rationality but solely thanks to the region’s inaccessibility beneath the metre thick crust of ice. This effective protection is now threatened: climate change is causing the ice to melt and opening the gate to lucrative resources that are presumed to exist there. But this also increases the dangers facing the icy waters in the realm of the polar night and the midnight sun.
The U.S. government in October released the latest edition of its annual statistical yearbook on commercial fisheries, Fisheries of the United States 2015. The annual report is the latest in a series going back many decades, and presents statistics on fish and shellfish species landings, production of leading seafood products, production of aquaculture and industrial products, U.S. exports and imports, and national per-capita consumption of major fisheries products. In addition, the report contains information on global production, trade, and consumption.
Climate change is having a deep impact on living conditions in the oceans. The average water temperature of the seas is rising, Polar ice is melting, water bodies are acidifying, water layers are more stable and mix less well, and low-oxygen zones are expanding. The effects of these changes are a source of increasing stress for fish stocks. Spatial shifting of populations and altered species composition within marine ecosystems are to be feared.