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Major threats foreseen due to Europe's changing marine environments
Date:9/13/2011

e Marine Board of the European Science Foundation, with contributions from more than 20 scientists, the CLAMER synthesis and related book, both available to the public Sept. 13 at www.clamer.eu, examine the environments of the North Sea, Baltic Sea, Arctic Ocean, North-East Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.

The synthesis notes that it is difficult to predict precisely the impacts of climate change or attach cost estimates to them. As well, some impacts will be widespread while others will vary from place to place.

That said, the societal impacts forecast include:

Rising illness risk

Says the CLAMER synthesis: "Millions of euros in health costs may result from human consumption of contaminated seafood, ingestion of water-borne pathogens, and, to a lesser degree, through direct occupational or recreational exposure to marine diseases. Climatic conditions are playing an increasingly important role in the transmission of these diseases."

More specifically, a team of researchers from Italy, the UK, Germany and the USA recently found, for example, that warmer ocean water is causing a proliferation of bacteria from a genus known as Vibrio, among the most dangerous of all bacterial pathogens, which can produce serious gastroenteritis, septicemia and cholera.

Some types of the bacteria and micro-algae are linked to shellfish-associated food poisoning deaths. Others harm marine animals, including mollusks and fish, "with major economic and environmental impacts," the researchers say.

Published in July in the Journal of the International Society for Microbial Ecology, the paper reports "an unprecedented increase in the number of bathing infections that have been associated with warm-water Vibrio species in Northwest Europe," and a "globally-increasing trend in their associated diseases."

While the study was based on seawater samples taken near the mouth of Europe's Rhin
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Contact: Terry Collins
tc@tca.tc
416-538-8712
Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ)
Source:Eurekalert  

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