Climate Change & Fisheries


We are already beginning to witness the different ways that climate change is reshaping ecosystems worldwide. Our oceans are no exception, and even small changes in acidity levels and sea surface temperatures are having a noticeable effect on the fisheries that span our oceans. In some fisheries, productivity is decreasing, and in others, fish stocks are responding to change by migrating to new areas that provide the ecological conditions they require for survival. Given that fisheries are a critical component of the blue economy, providing food security and livelihood benefits to billions of people around the world, SFG is focused on developing adaptvie management solutions that will help make them more resilient to the effects of climate change, now and in the future. 

The Future of Global Fisheries under Climate Change

Forecasted changes in climate are expected to alter ocean environments and change the spatial distribution of fish stocks worldwide. Previous research efforts have focused on investigating the potential effects of climate change on global fisheries, but these studies have not incorporated fisheries management policies into their models. Management policies determine the amount of pressure a stock is under, and they have a large impact on fishery productivity and profitability, regardless of any changes in climate. Because of the key role they play in determining the fate of fisheries, we have chosen to incorporate management policies into our projection models. In our research, we evaluate both the effect of climate change and fisheries management on biomass, harvest, and profit in global fisheries to give us a more comprehensive understanding of how climate change will affect fisheries across the globe.
The analysis we conducted for this project builds upon the bioeconomic modeling framework created by Chris Costello and SFG in 2016. Using an adapted version of this original model, we projected biomass, harvest, and profit through time for approximately 800 species. For each species, we evaluated a range of fisheries management plans, such as economic optimization and open access, and then estimated the associated changes in biomass, harvest, and profit under scenarios with and without climate change. Ultimately, our model projections have helped us gain insights into the ways that management plans and climate change affect fisheries.