Guardian: Climate Change is Linked to More Pirate Attacks

Essay by Eric Worrall

The authors appear to ignore some other more obvious explanations.

Impact of warmer seas on fish stocks leads to rise in pirate attacks

Study of piracy hotspots in east Africa and South China Sea found that piracy increases when fish populations decline and vice versa

Karen McVeigh @karenmcveigh1 Thu 11 May 2023 17.00 AEST

Dwindling fish stocks caused by the climate crisis are leading to an increase in pirate attacks, according to a new study looking at two piracy hotspots over the past two decades.

Warmer seas have negatively affected fisheries in east Africa, one of the world’s worst areas for piracy; while in the South China Sea, another hotspot for attacks, it has had the opposite effect: fish populations have risen.

This phenomenon created a “rare natural experiment” in which to test the links between climate breakdown and piracy risk, according to Gary LaFree, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Maryland, and one of the co-authors of the paper, published in the American Meteorological Society journal, Weather, Climate, and Society (WCAS).

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The abstract of the paper;

Climate Change, Fish Production, and Maritime Piracy

Bo Jiang and Gary LaFree

 Online Publication: 25 Apr 2023 Print Publication: 01 Apr 2023DOI: Page(s): 289–306

Contemporary social science has produced little research on connections between climate change and crime. Nonetheless, much prior research suggests that economic insecurity may affect individual calculations of the cost and benefit of engaging in criminal behavior, and climate change is likely to have important economic consequences for professions like fishing that depend directly on the environment. In this paper, we test the possibility that climate change affects participation in maritime piracy, depending on the specific ways that it impacts regional fish production. Our analysis is based on piracy in East Africa and the South China Sea. These two regions are strategic in that both areas have experienced a large amount of piracy; however, rising sea temperatures have been associated with declines in fish production in East Africa but increases in the South China Sea. We treat sea surface temperature as an instrument for fish output and find that in East Africa higher sea surface temperature is associated with declining fish production, which in turn increases the risk of piracy, whereas in the South China Sea higher sea surface temperature is associated with increasing fish production, which in turn decreases the risk of piracy. Our results also show that decreases in fish production bring about a larger number of successful piracy attacks in East Africa and that increases in fish production are associated with fewer successful attacks in the South China Sea. We discuss the theoretical and policy implications of the findings and point out that as climate change continues, its impact on specific crimes will likely be complex, with increases and decreases depending on context.

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Unfortunately the full study is paywalled. But there are other factors which might be contributing to food shortages in East Africa;

Challenges from Chinese distant water fishing fleets in Africa

By Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, ET BureauLast Updated: Jan 24, 2023, 10:10 AM IST

China is consistently ranked at number one in the global list of 152 countries practicing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Being an industrialized nation, China has been forcing its way into other poorer countries’ Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), forcing the local fishermen out of jobs and disrupting the local marine ecosystem. The worst hit is taken by countries in Africa, Latin America and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), according to IJ-Reportika, a leading investigative journ .. 

According to a comprehensive report published by IJ-Reportika, about 20% of the global IUU catch comes from just six western African countries – Mauritania, Senegal, the Gambia, GuineaBissau, Guinea and Sierra Leone. There have been multiple incidents of Chinese incursions and conflicts with the local African fishermen. Mauritania is suffering from Chinese incursions and aggressive fishing vessels since 2018. In 2020, three Mauritanian artisanal fishermen died when their boat was struck by a large Chinese Trawler. Despite being a smaller EEZ, it has been reported that the Chinese have spent over 2 million hours fishing. 

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The green war on agriculture and Ukraine war is also contributing to food shortages in poor countries.

Another issue undermining global food security is biofuel subsidies.

In 2008 the United Nations admitted biofuel subsidies were causing widespread hunger, and urged nations to review their policies.

U.N. Says Biofuel Subsidies Raise Food Bill and Hunger

By Elisabeth Rosenthal

ROME United Nations food agency called on Tuesday for a review of biofuel subsidies and policies, noting that they had contributed significantly to rising food prices and the hunger in poor countries. 

With policies and subsidies to encourage biofuel production in place in much of the developed world, farmers often find it more profitable to plants crops for fuel than for food, a shift that has helped lead to global food shortages. 

Current policies should be “urgently reviewed in order to preserve the goal of world food security, protect poor farmers, promote broad-based rural development and ensure environmental sustainability,” said a report released here on Tuesday by Jacques Diouf, the executive director of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. 

In releasing the report, the United Nations joined a number of environmental groups and prominent international specialists who have called for an end to at least an overhaul of subsidies for biofuels, which are cleaner, plant-based fuels that can sometimes be substituted for oil and gas.

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While there was some pullback, biofuel subsidies never really went away – they likely continue to exert upward pressure on food prices.

What if I’m wrong? What if global warming is having a direct impact on warm ocean fish stocks, which is possibly partially masked by other issues?

We can’t heat up the ocean to see what happens, but we can look at distant past periods in the same part of the world, when the world was much warmer than today.


Diverse marine fish assemblages inhabited the paleotropics during the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum 

Sanaa El-SayedMatt FriedmanTarek AnanMahmoud A. FarisHesham Sallam

The Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum (PETM) was a short interval (120–220 k.y.) of elevated global temperatures, but it is important for understanding biotic responses to climatic warming. Consequences of the PETM for marine fishes remain unclear, despite evidence that they might have been particularly vulnerable to increasing temperatures. Part of this uncertainty reflects a lack of data on marine fishes across a range of latitudes at the time. We report a new paleotropical (~12°N paleolatitude) fish fauna from the Dababiya Quarry Member of Egypt dating to the PETM. This assemblage—Ras Gharib A—is a snapshot of a time when tropical sea-surface temperatures approached limits lethal for many modern fishes. Despite extreme conditions, the Ras Gharib A fauna is compositionally similar to well-known, midlatitude Lagerstätten from the PETM or later in the Eocene. The Ras Gharib A fauna shows that diverse fish communities thrived in the paleotropics during the PETM, that these assemblages shared elements with coeval assemblages at higher latitudes, and that some taxa had broad latitudinal ranges substantially exceeding those found during cooler intervals.

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Given fish thrived in seas of coastal East Coast of Africa, during a period when global temperatures were at least 5C warmer than today, I think we can safely conclude that the claim global warming harms fish stocks or is likely to harm fish stocks in the foreseeable future is bogus.

I suspect there likely has been an increase in food distress in the last few decades in some parts of Africa, but the problems are more likely being caused by climate policy rather than climate change.

via Watts Up With That?

May 15, 2023 at 12:56PM

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