Climate Change Is Cutting Into the Global Fish Catch, and It's on Pace to Get Worse

One new study shows where fish populations have been hit hardest by climate change. A second gauges how much future harm could be avoided if the Paris goals are met.

Climate Change Is Cutting Into the Global Fish Catch, and It's on Pace to Get Worse

Researchers found some of the greatest declines in fish populations in waters off Western Europe and East Asia. Credit: Northeast Fisheries Science Center/NOAA

Warming ocean waters have already taken a toll on the world's fisheries, and the impact will worsen if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current pace, according to a pair of studies published this week.

In one study, researchers found that the maximum sustainable catch had significantly declined as the oceans warmed over the past century. The other, looking forward, found that limiting further global warming to the Paris climate agreement goal of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius would help protect millions of tons of future catches, worth billions of dollars.

"We were stunned to find that fisheries around the world have already responded to ocean warming," said Malin Pinsky of Rutgers University, a co-author of the study looking at the climate impact over past decades, in a written statement. "These aren't hypothetical changes sometime in the future."

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A How-To Guide for Conducting Common Fisheries-Related Analyses in R

Introductory Fisheries Analyses with R provides detailed instructions on performing basic fisheries stock assessment analyses in the R environment. Accessible to practicing fisheries scientists as well as advanced undergraduate and graduate students, the book demonstrates the flexibility and power of R, offers insight into the reproducibility of script-based analyses, and shows how the use of R leads to more efficient and productive work in fisheries science.

The first three chapters present a minimal introduction to the R environment that builds a foundation for the fisheries-specific analyses in the remainder of the book. These chapters help you become familiar with R for basic fisheries analyses and graphics.

Subsequent chapters focus on methods to analyze age comparisons, age-length keys, size structure, weight-length relationships, condition, abundance (from capture-recapture and depletion data), mortality rates, individual growth, and the stock-recruit relationship. The fundamental statistical methods of linear regression, analysis of variance (ANOVA), and nonlinear regression are demonstrated within the contexts of these common fisheries analyses. For each analysis, the author completely explains the R functions and provides sufficient background information so that you can confidently implement each method.

Web Resource
The author’s website at http://derekogle.com/IFAR/ includes the data files and R code for each chapter, enabling you to reproduce the results in the book as well as create your own scripts. The site also offers supplemental code for more advanced analyses and practice exercises for every chapter.




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Until now, there has been only one source of data on global fishery catches: information reported to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations by member countries. An extensive, ten-year study conducted by The Sea Around Us Project of the University of British Columbia shows that this catch data is fundamentally misleading. Many countries underreport the amount of fish caught (some by as much as 500%), while others such as China significantly overreport their catches.
The Global Atlas of Marine Fisheries is the first and only book to provide accurate, country-by-country fishery data. This groundbreaking information has been gathered from independent sources by the world’s foremost fisheries experts, and edited by Daniel Pauly and Dirk Zeller of the Sea Around Us Project. The Atlas includes one-page reports on 273 countries and their territories, plus fourteen topical global chapters. National reports describe the state of the country's fishery, by sector; the policies, politics, and social factors affecting it; and potential solutions. The global chapters address cross-cutting issues, from the economics of fisheries to the impacts of mariculture. Extensive maps and graphics offer attractive and accessible visual representations.
While it has long been clear that the world’s oceans are in trouble, the lack of reliable data on fishery catches has obscured the scale, and nuances, of the crisis. The atlas shows that, globally, catches have declined rapidly since the 1980s, signaling an even more critical situation than previously understood. The Global Atlas of Marine Fisheries provides a comprehensive picture of our current predicament and steps that can be taken to ease it. For researchers, students, fishery managers, professionals in the fishing industry, and all others concerned with the status of the world’s fisheries, the Atlas will be an indispensable resource.



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An analysis of how responsive governance has shaped the evolution of global fisheries in cyclical patterns of depletion and rebuilding dubbed the “management treadmill.”

The oceans are heavily overfished, and the greatest challenges to effective fisheries management are not technical but political and economic. In this book, D. G. Webster describes how the political economy of fisheries has evolved and highlights patterns that are linked to sustainable transitions in specific fisheries. Grounded in the concept of responsive governance, Webster's interdisciplinary analysis goes beyond the conventional view of the "tragedy of the commons.” Using her Action Cycle/Structural Context framework, she maps long-running patterns that cycle between depletion and rebuilding in a process that she terms the management treadmill.

Webster documents the management treadmill in settings that range from small coastal fishing communities to international fisheries that span entire oceans. She identifies the profit disconnect, in which economic incentives are out of sync with sustainable use, and the power disconnect, in which those who experience the costs of overexploitation are politically marginalized. She examines how these disconnects shaped the economics of expansion and documents how political systems failed to prevent related cycles of serial resource depletion. Webster also traces the increasing use of restrictive management in response to worsening fisheries crises and the emergence of new, noncommercial interests that demand greater management but also generate substantial conflict. She finds that the management treadmill is speeding up with population growth and economic development, and so concludes that sustainable fisheries can only exist within a sustainable global economic system.




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