Guidelines for incorporating fish distribution shifts into a fisheries management context

The impacts of climate change have been demonstrated to influence fisheries resources. One way climate has affected fish stocks is via persistent shifts in spatio-temporal distribution. Although examples of climate-forced distribution shifts abound, it is unclear how these shifts are practically accounted for in the management of fish stocks. In particular, how can we take into account shifting stock distribution in the context of stock assessments and their management outputs? Here, we discuss examples of the types of fish stock distribution shifts that can occur. We then propose a decision tree framework of how shifting stock distributions can be addressed. Generally, the approaches for addressing such shifts fall into one of three main alternatives: re-evaluate stock identification, re-evaluate a stock unit area, or implement spatially explicit modelling. We conclude by asserting that the approach recommended here is feasible with existing information and as such fisheries managers should be able to begin addressing the role of changes in stock distribution in these fish stocks. The implications of not doing so could be notably undesirable.

Climate change implications for fisheries and aquaculture: Overview of current scientific knowledge

An overview of the current scientific knowledge available on climate change implications for fisheries and aquaculture is provided through three technical papers that were presented and discussed during the Expert Workshop on Climate Change Implications for Fisheries and Aquaculture (Rome, 7–9 April 2008). A summary of the workshop outcomes as well as key messages on impacts of climate change on aquatic ecosystems and on fisheries- and aquaculture-based livelihoods are provided in the introduction of this Technical Paper. The first paper reviews the physical and ecological impacts of climate change relevant to marine and inland capture fisheries and aquaculture. The second paper tackles the consequences of climate change impacts on fisheries and their dependent communities. Finally, the third paper addresses the impacts of climate change on aquaculture.

Adaptation of Fisheries and Fishing Communities to the Impacts of Climate Change in the CARICOM Region

This paper is a compilation of information on impacts of climate change on Caribbean fisheries and adaptation approaches to these impacts. It also incorporates discussions and recommendations from the “Consultation on Adaptation of Fisheries and Fishing Communities to the Impacts of Climate Change in the CARICOM Region”, held in Tobago, April 14-15, 2002.

Clearly, there is the potential for climate change to have a wide range of substantial impacts on fisheries in CARICOM countries. These include impacts on: habitats, the resources, harvesting patterns, shore facilities, aquaculture and fishing communities. Adaptations include habitat conservation, upgrading of vessels and facilities, relocation of facilities. However, underlying these is the needs for integration of climate change issues into fisheries planning. Given that fisheries planning should involve consultation with stakeholders, there will be the need for increased awareness among stakeholders regarding the possible climate change impacts and adaptations.

Increased capacity for dealing with climate change impacts is highly coincident with the broader needs of countries regarding improved fisheries management. These include improved fisheries data and information systems, approaches to interacting with stakeholders and capacity to carry out research, and/or to collaborate with regional and international institutions in pursuing research objectives.

Fisheries Management in a Changing Climate: Lessons from the 2012 Ocean Heat Wave in the Northwest Atlantic

Climate change became real for many Americans in 2012 when a record heat wave affected much of the United States, and Superstorm Sandy pounded the Northeast. At the same time, a less visible heat wave was occurring over a large portion of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. Like the heat wave on land, the ocean heat wave affected coastal ecosystems and economies. Marine species responded to warmer temperatures by shifting their geographic distribution and seasonal cycles. Warm-water species moved northward, and some species undertook local migrations earlier in the season, both of which affected fisheries targeting those species. Extreme events are expected to become more common as climate change progresses (Tebaldi et al., 2006; Hansen et al., 2012). The 2012 Northwest Atlantic heat wave provides valuable insights into ways scientific information streams and fishery management frameworks may need to adapt to be effective as ocean temperatures warm and become more variable.

The threat to fisheries and aquaculture from climate change

Key messages

  • Significance of fisheries and aquaculture. Fish provide essential nutrition and income to an ever-growing number of people around the world, especially where other food and employment resources are limited. Many fishers and aquaculturists are poor and ill-prepared to adapt to change, making them vulnerable to impacts on fish resources.
  • Nature of the climate change threat. Fisheries and aquaculture are threatened by changes in temperature and, in freshwater ecosystems, precipitation. Storms may become more frequent and extreme, imperilling habitats, stocks, infrastructure and livelihoods.
  • The need to adapt to climate change. Greater climate variability and ncertainty complicate the task of identifying impact pathways and areas of vulnerability, requiring research to devise and pursue coping strategies and improve the adaptability of fishers and aquaculturists.
  • Strategies for coping with climate change. Fish can provide opportunities to adapt to climate change by, for example, integrating aquaculture and agriculture, which can help farmers cope with drought while boosting profits and household nutrition. Fisheries management must move from seeking to maximize yield to increasing adaptive capacity.

NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy: Highlights

The goal of this NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy (Strategy) is to increase the production, delivery, and use of climate-related information required to fulfill NOAA Fisheries mandates. Although the information needed to understand, prepare for, and respond to climate change impacts on LMRs is diverse, this Strategy identifies seven common objectives to efficiently and effectively meet these information requirements. The seven objectives are:

  • Objective 1: Identify appropriate, climate-informed reference points for managing LMRs.
  • Objective 2: Identify robust strategies for managing LMRs under changing climate conditions.
  • Objective 3: Design adaptive decision processes that can incorporate and respond to changing climate conditions.
  • Objective 4: Identify future states of marine, coastal, and freshwater ecosystems, LMRs, and LMRdependent human communities in a changing climate.
  • Objective 5: Identify the mechanisms of climate impacts on ecosystems, LMRs, and LMRdependent human communities.
  • Objective 6: Track trends in ecosystems, LMRs, and LMR-dependent human communities and provide early warning of change.
  • Objective 7: Build and maintain the science infrastructure needed to fulfill NOAA Fisheries mandates under changing climate conditions.

A Climate of Change: Climate Change and New England Fisheries Observations, Impacts, and Adaptation Strategies

In late July 2013, the Island Institute hosted a workshop with approximately 110 fishermen, scientists, managers, policy makers, non-governmental organizations, and others in Portland, Maine. The goal—to discuss the latest science of climate change and the ocean, as well as changes fishermen are seeing at sea. The workshop focused on improving our collective understanding of how climate change is impacting New England fisheries and fishermen. Topics discussed included how our current knowledge of climate change informs our approach to fisheries management, and how we may generate concrete and realistic steps to incorporate the effects of climate change.

Summary of Climate Change Effects on Major Habitat Types in Washington State

This paper is intended as a reference document—a “science summary”— for the Ecosystems, Species, and Habitats Topic Advisory Group (TAG), which is one of four topic groups working with state agencies to prepare a statewide Integrated Climate Change Response Strategy. The climate change response strategy was initiated by the state legislature (SB 5560) to help the state adapt to climate change.

The purpose of this paper is to provide TAG members with information on climate change effects on fish, wildlife, habitats, and ecosystems in marine environments so as to inform the assessment of priorities and the development of recommendations about adaptation responses. The paper is intended to summarize relevant literature regarding historical baselines, observed trends, future projections, knowledge gaps, and implications for biological communities. The paper focuses primarily at the ecosystem level due to limited availability of studies regarding climate change effects on habitats and species.

Climate Variability, Fish, and Fisheries

Fish population variability and fisheries activities are closely linked to weather and climate dynamics. While weather at sea directly affects fishing, environmental variability determines the distribution, migration, and abundance of fish. Fishery science grew up during the last century by integrating knowledge from oceanography, fish biology, marine ecology, and fish population dynamics, largely focused on the great Northern Hemisphere fisheries. During this period, understanding and explaining interannual fish recruitment variability became a major focus for fisheries oceanographers. Yet, the close link between climate and fisheries is best illustrated by the effect of "unexpected" events-that is, nonseasonal, and sometimes catastrophic-on fish exploitation, such as those associated with the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The observation that fish populations fluctuate at decadal time scales and show patterns of synchrony while being geographically separated drew attention to oceanographic processes driven by low-frequency signals, as reflected by indices tracking large-scale climate patterns such as the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). This low-frequency variability was first observed in catch fluctuations of small pelagic fish (anchovies and sardines), but similar effects soon emerged for larger fish such as salmon, various groundfish species, and some tuna species. Today, the availability of long time series of observations combined with major scientific advances in sampling and modeling the oceans' ecosystems allows fisheries science to investigate processes generating variability in abundance, distribution, and dynamics of fish species at daily. decadal, and even centennial scales. These studies are central to the research program of Global Ocean Ecosystems Dynamics (GLOBEC). This review presents examples of relationships between climate variability and fisheries at these different time scales for species covering various marine ecosystems ranging from equatorial to subarctic regions. Some of the known mechanisms linking climate variability and exploited fish populations are described, as well as some leading hypotheses, and their implications for their management and for the modeling of their dynamics. It is concluded with recommendations for collaborative work between climatologists, oceanographers, and fisheries scientists to resolve some of the outstanding problems in the development of sustainable fisheries.

Impacts of climate change on fisheries

Evidence of the impacts of anthropogenic climate change on marine ecosystems is accumulating, but must be evaluated in the context of the “normal” climate cycles and variability which have caused fluctuations in fisheries throughout human history. The impacts on fisheries are due to a variety of direct and indirect effects of a number of physical and chemical factors, which include temperature, winds, vertical mixing, salinity, oxygen, pH and others. The direct effects act on the physiology, development rates, reproduction, behaviour and survival of individuals and can in some cases be studied experimentally and in controlled conditions. Indirect effects act via ecosystem processes and changes in the production of food or abundance of competitors, predators and pathogens. Recent studies of the effects of climate on primary production are reviewed and the consequences for fisheries production are evaluated through regional examples. Regional examples are also used to show changes in distribution and phenology of plankton and fish, which are attributed to climate. The role of discontinuous and extreme events (regime shifts, exceptional warm periods) is discussed. Changes in fish population processes can be investigated in experiments and by analysis of field data, particularly by assembling comparative data from regional examples. Although our existing knowledge is in many respects incomplete it nevertheless provides an adequate basis for improved management of fisheries and of marine ecosystems and for adapting to climate change. In order to adapt to changing climate, future monitoring and research must be closely linked to responsive, flexible and reflexive management systems.