Small pelagic fisheries climate change

Small size pelagic fisheries like Sprats are highly impacted by environmental variability and climate change claims a new study

Small and intermediate-size pelagic fisheries are highly impacted by environmental variability and climate change claims a new study called “Changes of potential catches for North-East Atlantic small pelagic fisheries under climate change scenarios”.

The study claims to show that their wide geographical distribution and high mobility makes them more likely to shift their distribution under climate change. 

The study compiled by Jose A. Fernandes, Thomas L. Frölicher, Louise A. Rutterford, Maite Erauskin-Extramiana & William W. L. Cheung says:

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“Here, we explore the potential impact of different climate change scenarios on the four main commercial pelagic species in the North-East Atlantic (NEA): Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus), European sprat (Sprattus sprattus), Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) and blue whiting (Micromesistius poutassou). 

“We used a process-based fisheries model (SS-DBEM), where all the target species were exploited at their maximum sustainable yield (MSY), to project future potential catches under a high- and low-future-greenhouse-gas scenario (RCP 2.6 and 8.5, respectively). Two ocean biogeochemical models (GDFL and MEDUSA) were used to force the environmental conditions. Mackerel and sprat are projected to have increases in a potential catch under both scenarios. 

“Herring and blue whiting are projected to increase under the RCP2.6, but future projections under RCP8.5 show mixed responses with decreases or no changes forecasted. Overall, the potential catch is projected to increase in the northern area of the NEA but is projected to decrease in the southern area. 

“These projected changes are mainly driven by changes in temperature and primary production. Shifts in the distribution of pelagic resources may destabilize existing international agreements on sharing of straddling resources as exemplified by the dispute in sharing of quota for Atlantic mackerel. 

“Novel climate-ready policy approaches considering full species distribution are needed to complement current stock-based approaches.”

Climate change is having an effect on fish stocks with migration patterns changing and pushing further north as the waters warm to the south with long-term impacts being observed across the board.


Brian J McMullin Solicitors
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