Out of stock: the impact of climate change on British Columbia’s staple seafood supply and prices.


  • Ocean physics and chemistry is being affected significantly by carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, impacting key  marine and coastal organisms, ecosystems and the services they provide us, including seafood.
  • These impacts will occur across all latitudes, including in the waters of British Columbia and Canada. This will have direct impacts on the fish species that are consumed by residents of B.C.
  • The supply of B.C.’s “staple seafood” species such as Pacific salmon (e.g., sockeye and chum), Pacific halibut, groundfish species (e.g. sablefish), Pacific hake, crabs and prawns will be affected.
    This study predicts that by 2050:

    • We could see a 21-per-cent decline in sockeye, a 10-per-cent decline in chum, and a 15-per-cent decline in sablefish stocks.
    • Prices of iconic West Coast species such as sockeye, chum and sablefish are projected to increase by up to $1.33, $0.77 and $0.64 per pound for sockeye, chum and sablefish, respectively, under climate change  scenario alone.
    • Climate change will add pressure on already skyrocketing prices, contributing to an increase of more than 70 per cent in the price per pound in 2015 dollars of B.C.’s iconic species such as sockeye and chum salmon.
  • For the 10 staple seafood species of British Columbia, the net change in price attributable to climate change could cost British Columbians up to $110 million a year in 2015 dollars.
  • To begin to solve the problem, federal and provincial governments and private actors (businesses, NGOs and individuals) need to work together to make rapid reductions in CO2 emissions and eventually atmospheric CO2 drawdown, and instate other measures to protect ocean health.
  • Without action, there will be massive and mostly irreversible impacts of climate change on ocean ecosystems and the fish they provide.