What is already happening?
  • There have been no major changes or geographical shifts in species farmed in the UK due to climate change. 
  • However, increasing problems with invasive species, fish gill diseases, viruses and Vibrio contamination of shellfish are being linked with a changed climate.

Low evidence, low agreement

Complexity in predicting outcomes not only relates to combined effects of climate change and OA on the biology of the host, but on the ecosystem in which it lives. Local geographical or inter-annual variability in conditions make it difficult to predict potential impacts.

What could happen in the future?
  • Projections suggest temperatures will remain suitable for salmon farming until the end of the century and may increase growth rates. However, summer and autumn aquaculture in Northern Ireland and the south of Scotland may decline due to warming. 
  • Ocean acidification is unlikely to affect finfish farming, but may reduce shellfish spat settlement. 
  • Under warming conditions, problems associated with sea lice, fish disease and shellfish pathogens are expected to increase. However, some cold-water Vibrio species may become rarer.

Low evidence, medium agreement

Whilst the evidence for climate change impacts has increased, particularly for gill disease and Vibrio contamination, and increased growth rates, much uncertainty remains, including risks from HABs and invasive species.

Key Challenges and Emerging Issues
  • Understanding the synergistic effects of climate change and ocean acidification (and the effect of fluctuating, compared to continuous exposure to these impacts) on settlement (shellfish), growth and survival of aquaculture species.
  • Identifying the potential impacts of climate change on environmental conditions at aquaculture sites e.g., the assimilative capacity of receiving water bodies, including offshore.
  • Identifying the impacts of climate change that could favour the establishment and spread of non-native species at sites.