What would happen if every fish died?

Worldwide fishing in times of climate change

The oceans regulate our world climate. They produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. In addition, they mean the basis of life for millions of people and billions of food. But climate change poses enormous challenges for our oceans. And thus increasingly burden the global fisheries.

The endangerment of the smallest organisms is serious for complex food webs

Due to the increasing carbon dioxide content and the higher temperatures, that will also beWater is getting warmer and more acidic. The sea level is rising.A massive coral bleach is the result of the higher temperatures. By the end of the century, 99% of coral reefs will likely be bleached enough to die. We risk losing all of our coral reefs! It would be a tragedy. In total, coral reefs are home to 25% of all marine life, and more than a quarter of the world's small fishermen are considered to be on themLivelihood reliant.

Corals are not the only organisms threatened by increased acidification. Pteropods (also known as sea butterflies), which form the basis of the food webs of many other fish species, could also disappear as a result of acidification. This would break the food chain and make itself felt all the way to our dinner plates.

Changed fish behavior

Experiments have shown thatwarmer and more acidic water interferes with the fish's ability to find food and prevents their symbiotic relationships with other living things. The oxygen demand of fish and other living things increases with rising temperatures - one possible consequence is smaller fish, whose reduced body size increases their relative oxygen uptake. Smaller fish mean lower marine biomass, which means fewer fishing opportunities for fishermen. In addition, rising temperatures pull the schools of fish into ever deeper, cooler water or further out to sea and towards the poles. As a result, they are no longer so easily or not at all accessible for the small coastal fishermen.

Climate change is a massive threat to livelihoods in developing countries

Scientists predict thatfor every degree Celsius warming, the global catch potential will decrease by more than 3 million tons. Developing countries near the equator are more affected by warming than others. For some countries, for example, a 50% reduction in annual catches is expected by 2050. Over two-thirds of developing countries in Africa, Asia, Oceania and Latin America depend on their domestic sea fisheries for a source of protein. Some of themain species of fish for food security in developing countries such as anchovies and sardines,are particularly dependent on the climate - if these disappear from coastal regions, the population will lack an important staple food. In addition, larger fish migrate after their food, which means that fish migrations along the lines of longitude can be expected. For example, the tuna in the Pacific is likely to move further east.


alwaysmore frequent weather extremes, theincreasing coastal erosion and therising sea levelmake life difficult for fisheries. You have to go further and further out, take on ever greater dangers - in order to still catch less and less fish in the end. When there is no longer enough fish in their waters, the food safety of these people is threatened.

The world of fisheries will have to change

For2050 becomes aWorld population of nearly 10 billion people forecast. So we need more resources than ever before. This cannot be done with conventional fisheries management.Only sustainable resource management, a reduction in discards, increased demand for small and fast-growing fish species and a transition to sustainable aquaculture methods would improve the situation.

Scientists estimate that a globally sustainable fishery management could increase the fish biomass by 60% - howeveronly if global warming is contained! If, on the other hand, we remain inactive in fisheries management and with climate change, this will lead to dramatic losses in the productivity of global fisheries and thus to food shortages and threats to the existence of millions of people.

How sustainable fish consumption helps

  • Sustainably managed fish stocks can better adapt to changing environmental conditions.
  • Stable fish stocks and sustainable fisheries have a smaller ecological footprint.
  • Healthy fish stocks near the coast mean fewer long trips and thus less fuel required for the fishing boats.
  • Responsible aquaculture fish does not destroy coastal habitats like mangroves, which are important for climate change.

That is why the WWF recommends that fish be viewed as a delicacy and, if so, only buy sustainable fish! We give tips on this in our fish guide.

  • Sustainable fishing

    Fishing can only exist in the long term if the state of the environment becomes its core issue. Only sustainable fisheries can preserve fish as a resource in the long term. Continue reading ...

  • Developing countries

    Much of our fish in Europe comes from developing countries. It is precisely there that millions of people are dependent on the catch, production, processing and sale of fishery products. Continue reading ...