Study Shows ‘Clear Indications’ That Climate Change Is Impacting European Fish Stocks

Rising ocean temperatures are driving major changes in fisheries throughout western Europe, bringing warm water species typically seen in the Mediterranean to the coast of the United Kingdom.

A new report card issued by European marine researchers details the ecological and economic impact that climate change is having on fisheries in the UK and Scotland — concluding that there are “clear indications that climate change is affecting fish stocks” in the region.

The report card features a map of changes currently underway. In southwest England, there are increases in blue fin tuna, triggerfish, thresher sharks, stingrays, and ocean sunfish; In the North Sea, fisherman are catching far more squid, shifting from a traditional focus on haddock and cod; and on the coast of eastern England, fisherman are seeing major declines in cod due to overfishing and changing temperatures.

A rise in ocean temperatures could have mixed results in Europe, wiping out some fish stocks and making others more abundant. But the net impact would be unquestionably bad, warn the researchers:

Projected global redistributions of fish will affect different parts of the world unequally. By 2050, tropical regions could experience significant declines in landings with gains in some high latitudes. The overall cost of adaptation of the fisheries sector worldwide in response to climate change is predicted to be large and could lead to losses in gross fisheries revenues of $10–31 billion by 2050.

If ocean temperatures rise by 1 degree Celsius, the report predicts that mussel harvests could fall by half, while increasing storms could damage salmon farms — potentially introducing new predators or causing farmed salmon to escape in the wild and hybridize wild stocks.

The report card was put together by Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership, a group of scientists from government agencies and NGOs. While some of the long-term predictions for fisheries are sketchy, the impacts today are already being seen: “There are clear changes in the depth, distribution, migration and spawning behaviours of fish – many of which can be related to warming sea temperatures.”

9 Responses to Study Shows ‘Clear Indications’ That Climate Change Is Impacting European Fish Stocks

  1. Sam says:

    Doesn’t this neglect the role of increasing acidification?

  2. Merrelyn Emery says:

    I don’t think it can be over-emphasized that without healthy life-producing oceans, the future looks pretty grim – it’s a bit too serious to be trying to put a $ figure on it although that may get the magnitude of the problem through to some people, ME

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    George Monbiot has a good article on the utter devastation of the UK’s seas and seabeds by fishing, particularly the raking of the seabed for shellfish. The new Tory pathocracy, with its risible and cynically mendacious promise to be the ‘greenest ever’ (a Big, Big Lie) has allowed a tiny extent of protected areas amounting to less than 0.1% of the UK seas, and the rest is being destroyed by the usual devastators, capitalist businessmen men driven, by greed and the law, to maximise profits, and to hell with everything else. Even though protected marine reserves promote fishery recovery and serve as nurseries for fish populations outside the reserves, the Right detests them for the usual reason-simply because they are proposed and promoted by the hated ‘Greenies’.

  4. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    One thing the US does pretty well is manage fish stocks. Unfortunately most of the rest of the world does not do at all well.

    Overfishing is rampant. Climate change in so many areas will be almost irrelevant, there wont be any fish stocks to destroy.

    In marine parks you see the wonder that used to be almost universal. Now so much of our sea floor is a destert, destroyed by man.

  5. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Didn’t use the spell checker did I?

  6. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Simply not true and simply a fact that our simplistic, counting, accounting systems have never come close to describing or explaining what is happening in our oceans.

    Australia also claims to have a world class management of our fisheries and we also monitor and enforce, as best we can, what is happening in Southern waters.

    The oceans are dying regardless.

    There is a major problem:
    The international agreements, e.g. the law of the sea, suffer from the fact that countries in the UN ‘enjoy’ adversarial relations which means that implementation is long and slow. They are about their national advantage, not the future of the planet.
    Therefore, there is no international agreement about saving the Earth as a planet which supports life.

    To achieve the latter, i.e. an agreement that acknowledges that the Earth is a system that we all depend on, requires that we all acknowledge that we are first Earthlings, and only secondarily, …choose your label here…

    This shouldn’t be a contest about which country has the best fisheries management: it should be about our international representatives coming together as people with a shared goal – to preserve our planet as a wondrous example of the beauties of life. But to do that, they would have to stop being representatives of whatever, and start being people, part of planet Earth, ME

  7. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    No argument really, the oceans are dying. It is so sad to see how much has been lost over a single generation; how pitiful the remaining stocks are, compared to what used to be.

    It only takes a day in a marine park to realize how barren the rest of the ocean has become.

    I too do not think effective international action will ever happen. Our selfish short term thinking is just too against cooperation.

  8. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    One aspect of our rapid destruction of the oceans is the rise of the jellyfish. Warming oceans, filled with nitrogenous pollution and devoid of the fish that preyed on them, is leading to a takeover by jellyfish, whose depredations of small fish make a return to normal distributions of fish and other creatures ever harder. We’ve all seen, I imagine, the amazing scenes in Japan, where nets are so full of giant jellyfish that they must be cut away lest the boat capsize. We have very, very rapidly destabilised every ecosystem on earth, yet the Rightwing genocidaires simply deny every one, as the collapse of our life support systems rapidly accelerates.

  9. Merrelyn Emery says:

    “Furious agreement” here and with Mulga too. Just about my only hope here now is the revolt by the people of the world against the inhuman and anti-life economics that have dominated our lives for the last 40 years. Don’t see much of it in my own country unfortunately, but go the Greeks!

    Somebody has to lead the revolt and start the stampede, and who better than the people whose ancestors gave us a great example of participative rather than representative democracy (and I acknowledge the limitations) ME