According to a study published in Nature Communications, one of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals, changes in water quality can have a significant impact on fish catch data, which also affects the economy and food security of a particular region. The study analyses the data of 31 lakes located in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas over the period between 1970 and 2014. The necessary information about the spatial and temporal changes of the fish stock of Lake Balaton were provided by Dr András Weiperth’s research, titled the Effect of water level fluctuations on fishery and anglers’ catch data of economically utilised fish species of Lake Balaton between 1901 and 2011.
Lakes are important reserves of accessible freshwater, and they play a significant role in ecosystem services, such as irrigation, hydropower generation, and fishery. Despite their importance to humanity regarding food security and livelihoods (e.g. tourism), our knowledge about the effects of environmental changes and societal demands on lakes and fish catches is still limited, SZIE reported.
The study was coordinated by Michigan State University and founded by the United States Geological Survey. Twenty-eight research institutes from 19 countries, including the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences of Szent István University, took part in the data collection.
Through a global collaboration, researchers attempted to examine how climate change and human activities affect lake ecosystems and the effectiveness of lake fisheries. These two anthropogenic stressors can exert a direct impact on lake ecosystems through changing water temperature and water level. Environmental changes have been linked to alterations in fish catches and species composition in lakes on a global scale.
Researchers found that
“effects of a climate or land-use driver (e.g., air temperature) on lake environment could be relatively consistent in directions, but consequential changes in a lake-environmental factor (e.g., water temperature) could result in either increases or decreases in fish catch in a given lake. […] The correlation analysis shows that a lake located in a region with greater access to clean water less likely experiences a substantial decrease in CATCH in response to potential climate and land-use changes.”
Dr András Weiperth emphasised that the results coincide with the United Nations’ Development Goal 6, which aims to ensure the availability and access to clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene worldwide.