The Economics of Adapting Fisheries to Climate Change

image of The Economics of Adapting Fisheries to Climate Change

Climate change is becoming more evident and, as it increases, will alter the productivity of fisheries and the distribution of fish stocks. From an economic point of view, the changes will have impacts on fisheries and coastal communities in different ways. These expected changes require adaptable and flexible fisheries and aquaculture management policies and governance frameworks. However, the forms of future climate change and the extent of its impact remain uncertain. Fisheries policy makers therefore need to develop strategies and decision-making models in order to adapt to climate change under such uncertainty while taking into account social and economic consequences. 

While most work on climate change in the fisheries sector has focused on fisheries science, this book highlights the economic and policy aspects of adapting fisheries to climate change. An outcome of the OECD Workshop on the Economics of Adapting Fisheries to Climate Change, held in June 2010, the book outlines the actions that fisheries policy makers must undertake in the face of climate change. These include: strengthening the global governance system; a broader use of rights-based management systems; ecosystem protection; industry transformation through the ending of environmental harmful subsidies and a focus on demand for sustainably caught seafood; and, in particular, using aquaculture as a key part of the response to climate change.



Climate change, adaptation and the fisheries sector

The fishing industry is a primary example for an industry subject to nature’s variability, including climate change. Climate change affects fisheries along two main axes, changes in productivity in a given location and changes in fish migrations or the location of their habitats. Based on IPPC reports and other sources the paper summarizes expected changes in the marine environment. It then looks into potential fisheries productivity implications by drawing on examples from changes that occurred in the past. The paper also outlines the impacts of changing fish migration patterns of shared stocks, again illustrated by examples from the past. Those changes can influence the behaviour of the partners exploiting a shared stock, with critical consequences for the status of the stock and/or the relationships between the partners of an agreement. The paper further illustrates that if those changes affect stocks located entirely or partially in the high seas, shared management through RFMOs becomes even more challenging.


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