The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) launched its latest report card this week at the World Fisheries Congress in Edinburgh. It focuses on how climate change is affecting the fish and shellfish around the UK and Ireland because understanding this is fundamental to managing activities in our seas.
To produce this report the MCCIP commissioned three groups of scientists to consider how climate change is affecting marine fish, fisheries and aquaculture and what the social and economic consequences could be. The key findings of the scientists documented in the 2012 report card include that there are clear changes in the depth, distribution, migration and spawning behaviours of fish - many of which can be related to warming sea temperatures; that cultivated fish and shellfish are both susceptible to climate change, although fish farming technologies offer good potential for adaptation; and that controlled or closed fishing areas (a type of protected area) that can be adapted in response to climate change have the potential to help protect commercial and vulnerable fish stocks.
The report notes that recreational sea fishing is an important socio-economic activity that could be positively affected by climate change, due to the increasing abundance of species that are of interest to anglers, but that shifting distributions of fish have led to a series of international disagreements and will continue to have implications for fisheries management across international boundaries. If some species that are essential to the integrity of marine food chains are particularly affected by climate change then extensive restructuring of food chains will follow. A decline in the abundance of sandeels in the North Sea may prove to be an example, while an increasing demand for fish versus decreasing availability may be exacerbated by climate change.
The report card also includes a regional seas climate change impacts map, which shows that most areas around the UK and Ireland are likely to be affected.
For other coverage of the World Fisheries Congress 2012, go to: