Download the full MCCIP Science Review 2017 for Fisheries (PDF)
MCCIP reported in 2006 that:
- warm water commercial species such as sea bass, red mullet and tuna are becoming more common place in our seas;
- cold water species, such as cod have declined, with a possible link suggested between warmer sea temperatures and reduced populations of fish at the southern limit of their distribution range;
- continued declines in abundance and northward retreat in distribution of commercial cold water species;
- new species might become available for commercial exploitation.
And in 2017 that:
- warm water species have continued to become more commonplace, for example large numbers of bluefin tuna have been sighted off south-west UK in recent years;
- for the past 10 years, the number of juvenile cod entering the population has remained very low despite dramatic decreases in fishing mortality and this sustained reduction is thought to be a result of climate change;
- it is not simply a case of species moving northwards in response to warming, they may also move deeper. Patterns of distribution are also influenced by fishing pressure;
- cephalopod (squid, cuttlefish and octopus) populations around the UK are expanding in response to warming. Squid numbers have increased dramatically, allowing an important summer trawl fishery to be developed.
And also that:
- changes in mackerel distribution have been linked to a combination of factors, including warmer seas, changes in food availability and a range expansion of the stock into Faroese and Icelandic waters with consequences for fisheries quota allocation and governance;
- in the early 2000s, European seabass had expanded dramatically, especially in the English Channel, and was moving northward as a result of warming and was expected to continue. Seabass have been observed further north than was previously the case, although, because of overfishing, not in the numbers originally anticipated in 2006;
- despite many studies it is still unclear which ports and fleet segments will be most impacted by future climate change.
What we have learned:
There is now a substantial body of evidence supporting links between climate change and the distribution of commercial fish stocks. Predictions made 10 years ago about changes in stocks of cold-water species, such as cod, have largely been borne out. How changes in commercial species distributions are impacting on the industry is less clear, and little is known about the social and economic effects on fleets and fisheries.
Fishing boats © David Lees
Please cite this document as:
Pinnegar, J. K., Garrett, A., Simpson, S.D., Engelhard, G.H. and van der Kooij, J. (2017) Fisheries. MCCIP Science Review 2017, 73-99, doi:10.14465/2017.arc10.007-fis