[CARACAS] The collapse of sardine fisheries in the southern Caribbean Sea during the past decade may have been driven by global climate change, according to a study.
Researchers from the United States and Venezuela linked ecological measurements in the southern Caribbean Sea with global climate change indicators. These indices were revealed to correlate to changes in regional wind and seawater circulation patterns, which may have dire socioeconomic consequences for Caribbean countries — such as the collapse of valuable sardine fisheries.
The sardine, Sardinella aurita, feeds on plankton but since 2005, plankton levels in the Caribbean have reduced significantly, which, coupled with overfishing, may have contributed to the collapse of these fisheries — which plummeted by as much as 87 per cent, the study says.
The research team said that the decreasing levels of plankton production are the result of a reduction in ocean upwelling, whereby nutrients crucial for plankton production are brought from the sea's floor to the surface. The drop in upwelling has, in turn, been driven by changes in wind patterns and wind strength, themselves driven by global climate change.