Skip to content

The Southern Ocean and South Pacific Region

Research output: Non-textual formWeb publication/site

The Region comprises three sub-regions (FAO Statistical Areas) with very different characteristics. The South Pacific includes the vast and virtually unpopulated Southern Ocean surrounding the Antarctic. It has the world’s largest fisheries off Peru and Chile and some of the world’s best managed fisheries in Australia and New Zealand. The Region has over 27% of the world’s ocean area and over 98% of the Region’s total area of 91 million km2 is ‘open ocean’. The Region contains less than 5% of the global continental shelf area only a fraction of this area is covered by three large marine ecosystems (the New Zealand Shelf, the Humboldt Current and the Antarctic LMEs). The Humboldt Current System (HCS) is the world’s largest upwelling which provides nutrients for the world’s largest fisheries. The Region also has a high number of seamounts
The marine capture fisheries of the Region produce over 13 million tons annually and an expanding aquaculture industry produces over 1.5 million tons. Peru’s anchoveta fishery provides about half the world’s supply of fish meal and oil, key ingredients of animal and fish feeds. El Niños, or more generally as El Niño Southern Oscillations (ENSOs) can substantially change the species composition of the key small pelagic catches (anchovy, sardine, horse mackerel and jack mackerel) causing production to fluctuate from about 4-8 million tons. Partly due to the lack of upwellings and shelf areas, fisheries production in the Southern Ocean and Area 81 is relatively small but supports economically important commercial and recreational fisheries and aquaculture in New Zealand and in New South Wales (Australia). Krill remains a major underexploited resource, but is also a keystone species in the Antarctic food web. The Region is home to numerous endangered species of whales, seals and seabirds and has a high number of seamounts, vulnerable ecosystems fished for high-value species such as Orange roughy.
The fisheries and ecosystems of the Region are highly vulnerable to ocean acidification (OA), particularly when associated with the stresses from ocean warming and low oxygen. OA is likely to have negative impacts in the Region, but some opportunities may also arise for culture of seaweeds, or expansion of fisheries for species with higher resilience to OA. Other stresses include commercial fishing, ocean warming, and pollution. As the Southern Ocean and the HCS are areas where OA will have substantial and early impacts, a strong case can be made for the Region to invest in the science of OA and to pilot adaptation and mitigation measures.
Given the economic importance of fisheries in the Region, countries have well-developed fisheries management regimes and a strong marine science capability. The limited number of major industrial fisheries enterprises also suggests opportunities for broad stakeholder dialogue and engagement. Regional fisheries bodies have espoused an ecosystem approach to fisheries which creates the opportunity to include OA considerations in the preparation of scientific advice and the decision-making process.
The long term priority is to move towards reduction in GHG emissions and the Region can play an important role in pursuing an ‘OA agenda’ in international fora. In the medium term, the Region can envisage a range of actions to mitigate and adapt to the effects of OA. These include actions to enhance knowledge of the impacts and piloting policies and strategies for conservation and sustainable use of marine resources that take account of the impacts of OA. Raising stakeholder and public awareness will be an important step in generating initiatives and financing OA knowledge management and research and developing OA engagement strategies for the Region’s capture fisheries and aquaculture. ‘Technical’ questions arising in the Region include the impact of OA on the Southern Ocean keystone species – krill; the impact of the combined stressors of OA and low oxygen in the Humboldt Current System; the need to increase understanding of the adaptive capacity of cultured molluscs to OA; and the need for expanded data on OA trends throughout the vast Region. Addressing these and other questions will contribute to the understanding of the economics of ocean acidification in the Region.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherInternational Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Media of outputOnline
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012
Event2nd International Workshop on the Economics of Ocean Acidification - Oceanographic Museum, Monaco, Monaco
Duration: 11 Nov 201213 Nov 2012

Documents

Related information

Relations Get citation (various referencing formats)

ID: 1511325