The country of Eritrea believes that the trend of increasing ocean acidity and temperature poses a threat to the economy and food security of our country. The emission of greenhouse gasses has caused an increase in atmospheric temperature and an increase in global ocean temperature with it. The most abundant anthropogenic greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide (CO2), which is released into the atmosphere the burning of fossil fuels for energy production. The CO2 is absorbed by the ocean, where it reacts with seawater, forming carbonic acid, and lowering the pH of the ocean water. Although the effects of increased acidity and temperature on ocean chemistry are not fully known, these trends are known to be threats to the health of coral reefs. Warming water temperatures cause corals to lose microorganisms which provide the coral with food, protection, and their signature coloration. The increase in ocean acidity leads to a decrease in the dissolved salts corals use to grow, leading to a subsequent reduction in coral growth. In severe cases of increased acidification, corals can begin to dissolve.
The health of Eritrea’s coral reefs are of immediate concern to the country. The waters in the southern red sea within Eritrea’s EEZ are particularly productive and are home to over 1000 species of fish and 220 species of coral. Reef fish makeup 64% of Eritrea’s total fishery catch. In ca 2012 report from the NGO Oceana, Eritrea was ranked number 9 in countries whose food security is most vulnerable to ocean acidification.
Food security is an ongoing priority of the Eritrean government. Although meat is the more popular protein source in Eritrea and fish consumption in Eritrea is low (1 kg/capita/year) many local fishing communities rely on fish. Eritrea lacks the economic power and infrastructure to import food from other countries, and considers any global threat to our local food supply to be of the utmost importance. We will work with larger industrialized nations to come to an agreement to control CO2 emissions and promote green energy projects in developing nations.