The impacts of climate change on the commercial
services provided by our seas will be significant.
Sea-level rise, coastal flooding
and storms and waves will affect ports,
shipping and built structures.
Fishing and fish farming will be
affected by temperature change and
plankton availability. Rising temperatures should
have positive impacts on tourism, whilst
retreating Arctic sea-ice may open up new (seasonal)
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WHAT IS ALREADY HAPPENINGWHAT COULD HAPPENShipping Plymouth University
There are no academic studies available on the direct
impacts of climate change on shipping, although numerous industry
and media reports have been published in the past
Climate change mitigation measures are having an
indirect impact; in the short term, regulation of greenhouse
emissions will arise through international agreement and a
Greenhouse Gas Indexing Scheme for ships is being
Fuel efficiency and reduction of greenhouse gas
emissions are driving a push for new propulsion and hull
Major risks to ports are likely to arise from flooding and
physical damage associated with sea-level rise and severe
Future changes in wind speed and storminess could lead to
reduced loads, route changes and restrictions for some ships.
Continued decline of Arctic sea-ice could extend accessibility
to high-latitude shipping routes, for example increasing the Arctic
navigation season from Europe to Asia from 20-30 days to 90-100
days per year within this century.
TourismNE; University of Maastricht
Climate change is increasing the frequency of months when
conditions are more comfortable for tourists in north-west Europe
than in the Mediterranean.
A longer tourist season and increased visitor numbers
to the north-west European coastal zone will lead to: increased
tourist infrastructure (i.e. hotels, attractions, marinas);
increased revenues; increased employment; increased waste (i.e.
sewage, solid waste); and increased environmental
Allowances for annual rates of sea-level rise are made
in the planning of coastal structures.
Increases in wave heightsThe distance between the trough and
peak of a wave. over the period 1973-1998 are part of
the statistical measures that set the design criteria for oil and
Increasing rates of erosion under existing scenarios of
climate change could increase damage to coastal structures by three
to nine times within this century.
The cabling infrastructure around wind farms may be
particularly sensitive to changes in the supply and movement of
FisheriesCefas; FRS; MBA
Excessive fishing pressure over many decades may have
resulted in fish populations less able to 'buffer' against
occasional poor year classes and the impacts of natural climate
Distribution shifts and modifications of fish behaviour
as a result of temperature changes, may be affecting the
vulnerability of certain fish stocks to fishing
In the short term, climate change will have little
influence on fish stock recovery, which depends instead upon
reducing fishing effort to allow existing year classes to survive
Long-term climate change may affect the overall
productivity of fish stocks in a given area. Some species may be
adversely affected leading to reductions in sustainable yield
whilst others, for example seabass, red mullet and John Dory, may
be positively affected leading to enhanced fishing
Aquaculture (fish and shellfish farming)FRS
In the short term, climate change is unlikely to have a
significant effect on UK-farmed marine fish (over 99% of which are
cultivated in Scotland) and shellfish (39% in England and Wales;
43% in Northern Ireland; 18% in Scotland for 2006).
Rising water temperatures could increase growth rates for some
species (e.g. Atlantic salmon, mussels and oysters), but may also
cause thermal stress for cold-water species (e.g. cod and Atlantic
halibut) and intertidal shellfish (e.g. oysters).
New species (e.g. sea bass, bream) may be cultivated.
Farmed species may become more susceptible to a wider variety
of diseases as temperatures increase.
Increasing harmful algal and jellyfish blooms may lead to
additional fish kills and closure of some shellfish harvesting
Increased temperatures and more abundant plankton could
also improve reproduction and settlement of 'spat' at shellfish