Dr. Norm Catto, a Geography Professor at Memorial University was in Harbour Breton on June 19 to talk about the effects of climate change on coastal communities.
The Coast of Bays Corporation, in conjunction with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the provincial Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture and Memorial University organized the session.
Conrad Collier, the Executive Director of the COBC said that we can’t hide from climate change and that we will have to adapt to it if we are going to continue living in the area.
“Our way of life will be affected by climate change, “Collier said, “as it could have profound effects on our traditional fishery and on aquaculture. We need to be aware of those effects as the ongoing process of climate change continues.”
Dr. Catto said that climate change is really happening and that we need to deal with the consequences. He said that climate change will continue and would be with us for a period of time even if we stopped producing greenhouse gases immediately.
Dr, Catto said, “We have things happening because of climate change such as coastline erosion and warmer water temperatures, and we have to have an official way of dealing with those, and other changes.”
Dr. Catto said that the effects of climate change on aquaculture have been looked at in areas of North America.
He said, “Whether climate change will be good or bad for aquaculture depends on how we deal with the situation.
For example, warmer water temperatures may help certain species grow faster, but it could also bring in more pests to create problems in the industry.
“We expect water temperatures to become two to three degrees Celsius warmer so let’s have a strategy to meet this situation and to deal with the results.”
He said that municipal and provincial leaders have to be fully aware of the consequences of climate change as well.
“We will need to deal with certain specific issues instead of just dealing with climate change as a whole,” Dr. Catto said.
“If we’re having problems with landslides or slope failures we have to know where they’re happening and how often. Maybe we can’t stop them but we have to have to develop strategies to deal with them.
“If we’re having problems with water supplies in the summer then we have to look at how we can monitor or regulate water usage.
Dr. Catto said that there could be some very positive benefits to climate change in the province.
He said, “Our growing season is getting longer which will be great plus for our farmers as they may be able to grow more crops than before.
“Our tourism season is getting longer and we may become a favorite tourist destination for many people as the interior of North America becomes warmer than Newfoundland.”
According to Dr. Catto, there are things people can do to prepare for effects of climate change such as stronger storms that may hit our province.
He said that just having something on hand as an emergency kit with plenty of candles and battery radios can make a difference in a storm such as Hurricane Igor which het the province in 2010.
Dr. Catto said, “Climate change is just like any other stress in that you can throw up your hands and say it’s bad or you can say that’s fine, let’s deal with it. Climate change is real, it’s here, and it’s happening at a much faster rate than climate changes in the past.”