Research highlight

Fisheries losses

Nature Climate Change

November 21, 2011

Economic losses from marine fisheries worldwide are likely to increase as a consequence of climate change, according to a review published online this week in Nature Climate Change. Climate change has altered ocean conditions, making them warmer, more stratified and more acidic in the twentieth century. Recent studies show that these changes affect both the productivity and the distribution of fish stocks. The economic consequences of decreased productivity and shifts in the distribution of fish stocks can be severe, and could ultimately result in income losses and poor nutrition for millions across the world. Rashid Sumaila and colleagues look at recent evidence of biophysical changes in marine ecosystems as a result of climate change, and discuss the potential impacts of these changes on fisheries revenues and fishing costs in different countries. In the case of Peru, for example, reduced landings of open-sea fisheries — due to changes in sea surface temperature during the 1997-1998 El Nino event — caused more than US$26 million of revenue loss. They argue that more research is needed on fisheries management regimes under climate change, and adaptation strategies, such as sponsored programmes to limit fisheries, gear restrictions and livelihood diversification, ought to be considered.

doi: 10.1038/nclimate1301

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