As the world population grows and urbanisation increases, chances of overfishing, climate change, loss of major ocean biodiversity habitats and increasing demand for marine resources are considered likely.

New NOAA report warns ocean ecosystems at risk, blaming mining and oil and gas exploration Read more

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says on Tuesday in Copenhagen, “Reef-building is already suffering from impacts of climate change,” as part of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

Global warming is already being felt due to the melting of polar ice caps and Arctic sea ice. The occurrence of more frequent and larger weather extremes is also being observed.

Researchers said it is important to adjust adaptation plans and if we do not act now, climate change will claim much more destructive results.

Executive Director of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Pacific Region, Dr Jim Fletcher, says sea levels on the West Coast could rise by 20cm if the projections for ice melt from Greenland and Antarctica come true.

“But in 100 years we are going to see rising sea levels and the deluge of climate change disasters that are about to become more frequent.”

He says the combination of increasing temperatures, rising sea levels and increased storm intensity, makes each 1.8C Celsius rise in global average temperature “inevitable”.

Such expected threats are putting coral reefs around the world at risk of severe stress and potentially irreversible impacts.

The research comes as a new report from the International Seabed Authority (ISA) released in Copenhagen revealed that there is risk of habitat loss for the world’s leading fish stocks as a result of mining development in the remote seas.

ISA said it is concerned about the 20 important high value economic fish stocks, as these contribute $10.1bn (£7.67bn) to the global fishing sector annually.

Isa President and CEO Adrian Mawson, told the media in Copenhagen that increasing the stakes for Australia’s mining industry by approving The Adani Carmichael mine and Port of Abbot Point coal port would not only wreck the world’s climate and environment but do “tremendous damage” to the fishing industry.

The economic consequences are even worse, says Mawson.

“Mining brings together thousands of people and they move to a location, they want to get the resources from a particular place. If these places and resources are damaged, it impacts everyone.

Mawson said it is very important to consider other regional and national interests as well as to ensure that the regional economic prospects are maintained.

“People come to a particular location to work and they want to be productive in the industry.”

Mawson said this is why the ISA is working to minimise environmental impacts on its 345,000 sq km of seafloor and approximately 12 million sq km of offshore seabed.

“That means conducting a careful and collaborative evaluation of potential impacts to marine ecosystems, climate, water quality and aquatic life,” he said.

The Tiwi Islands, a group of islands in the north of Australia, is now considering building a pollution avoidance plan in response to research that exposes the detrimental effects of Carmichael coal mine and port development.

Tiwi Islands chairwoman Lois Sharp says the project will be on the local foreshore, “so when people come to the area, they don’t know they are going to be dumping pollution into the ocean.”

The proposed project is expected to generate the largest volume of coal exports in Australian history.

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