What Will Climate Change Mean for Future Fisheries?

Climate change offers both opportunities and risks to established and emerging fisheries and aquaculture enterprises and the communities they support.

ClimeFish is a four-year project largely backed by the European Union. This project has, at its core, the goal of providing sound advice to guide management decisions to ensure that seafood production can increase in areas and for species where there is potential for sustainable growth under climate change.

The ClimeFish consortium of researchers and stakeholders spans 13 European Union and associated countries and three partners — including Canada, via the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research (CFER) within Memorial University’s Fisheries and Marine Institute.

With a strategy that begins by identifying species and locations of interest with stakeholders, then assembling associated biological and climate information, no less than three climate scenarios (optimistic, likely, worst case) will be used to forecast future production.

Atlantic mackerel is a focal species within the ClimeFish project.  Photo by Laura Wheeland, CFER.

Atlantic mackerel is a focal species within the ClimeFish project.
Photo by Laura Wheeland, CFER.

Importantly, following biological forecasting of changes in fisheries’ distributions and production, links to sustainable fisheries production within rural and coastal communities will include the development of decision support tools (computer software), to identify and mitigate potential risks and forecast socio-economic impacts.

The Newfoundland and Labrador region includes major fish species of interest to ClimeFish participants (cod, hake, and mackerel). Decadal trends in productivity within this region will be evaluated and forecast by extending existing spatial models of local fisheries productivity.

The CFER component will predict locations that can be expected to sustain fisheries development in the region. Importantly, the products and methodologies developed within this Canadian context can be generalized to apply to others within the European Union zone. This knowledge sharing is a main component in the intended collaboration between ClimeFish relevant organizations outside of Europe.

ClimeFish has outlined ambitious plans for the co-creation of decision support frameworks to ensure sustainable fish production under climate change.
By working within this consortium towards this common goal, the results and interactions with this international team will contribute new information of relevance to future fisheries of the North Atlantic.

This article was written by Jonathan A. D. Fisher and Dominique Robert, who are research scientists with the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research (CFER), Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University.

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