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Climate change impacts local marine life

Hibiscus Coast App

Staff Reporter

09 July 2024, 11:57 PM

Climate change impacts local marine life

Locals on the Hibiscus Coast are concerned as Fisheries New Zealand reports climate change factors are likely causing Milky White Flesh Syndrome in snapper.


This condition results in skinny fish with mushy, white flesh, significantly affecting snapper in the Hauraki Gulf.





An update from Stats New Zealand this week indicates that sea-surface temperatures around Aotearoa New Zealand reached their warmest annual levels between 2022 and 2023 since records began in 1982.


“Measuring sea-surface temperature tells us how rapidly the ocean's uppermost productive layers are warming,” said Stuart Jones, environment and agricultural statistics senior manager.


The data reveals that sea-surface temperatures have risen by an average of 0.16 to 0.26°C per decade in oceanic regions and 0.19 to 0.34°C per decade in coastal regions.





The Tasman Sea and East Coast South Island experienced the highest rates of warming.


“Even small rises in temperature can disrupt marine ecosystems, cause some species to relocate, and increase disease risks,” Jones explained.


“It also contributes to sea-level rise as the warmer water expands.”



This phenomenon has had profound effects on the local fishing industry, with Milky White Flesh Syndrome impacting the quality and marketability of snapper, a popular catch among local fishers.