What does the future have in store?

THE EAST coast of Scotland, including our area, could find itself in the peculiar position in coming years of facing drier summers and shifting fish stocks as well as flooding, which seems contradictory but could come to pass.

A Scottish Government document, the Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) for Scotland, contains the latest evidence on the threats which will be brought by global warming up to the year 2100, and the opportunities which may arise.

The document suggests that the country could face problems with drier summers which could reduce water availability and an increase in temperature in the seas around Scotland which could have a negative impact in the quality of shellfish and could lead to the movement northwards of fish stocks.

It also says that increased coastal and inland flooding could affect areas and put natural habitats and a range of animal and plant species at risk.

It found that warmer conditions could lead to an increase in forest productivity and yields of key agricultural crops, although there is a potential for increased threats due to new or more widespread pests and diseases.

Arbroath East and Lunan councillor Bob Spink, who spent a lifetime in the fish industry in the town, agrees that problems could be just over the horizon.

He stated: “In recent years we have seen wet summers caused by heavy rainfall and we all have evidenced the damage we have had to cope with. Perhaps a bit of the long drier summers forecast by the government would be a good thing instead of the wet and windy affairs that seem to have become our lot.

“The government report appears a bit contradictory by forecasting dry summers leading to water shortages on the one hand and coastal and inland flooding on the other.”

Councillor Spink continued: “I have for many years advocated that changes in water temperature are likely to affect fish species migration, in particular cod. Over-fishing has always had to bear the brunt of the blame for decreasing stocks but the problem was always much more complex than that with relatively small changes in sea temperature I believe pushing fish further north.

“Doubtless the government alludes to the melting ice cap leading to higher sea-levels thus more coastal flooding and certainly the scientific evidence we are given substantiates this and it does tie up with the council report. Where these higher sea-levels coincide with high tides coastal flooding with clearly occur and for this we have to be prepared.

“I know nothing of pests and diseases affected by warmer weather but it seems logical to me that the emergence of both as a problem would be a likely effect were these increased temperatures to become reality.”

Councillor Spink welcomed the national report as it gives warning and shows awareness of what may be our lot in the future, adding: “We thus must plan for that and make contingency effort where necessary for it appears climate change, although it may not manifest itself exactly as predicted, is certain to come in one way or another.”