Habitat and Fisheries Interactions: Spatial Patterns Under Climate Change

Sunday, February 17, 2013
Room 304 (Hynes Convention Center)
Andre Boustany , Duke University, Durham, NC, United States
Marine capture fisheries constitute the largest component of global seafood production.  As these industries are reliant on extracting seafood directly from a dynamic ecosystem, they are likely to see significant shifts in distribution and yield due to climate change.  Understanding the influence physical and biological oceanographic variables have on the current distribution of fish and fisheries is essential in being able to form predictions on what fisheries will look like in a future ocean.  Some fish species distributions are driven more by static variables (bathymetry, distance from shore, distance from fishing port, etc.) while others are more influenced by dynamic variables (water temperature, ocean productivity, etc.).  Determining which factors are the major determinants for fish distribution will provide insight into what changes to fisheries are expected under a changing climate.  Fisheries targeting species whose distributions are “sticky” (likely to remain static) will see change in climate manifesting mainly through changes in fish stock productivity, while those targeting fish stocks more heavily influenced by dynamic oceanographic variables will see shifts in the distribution of target species.  These shifts in distribution can have secondary effects on fisheries yield if future distributions make fish more or less susceptible to exploitation.  Ultimately, making useful predictions about the future of global capture fisheries will involve not only determining the predicted shifts in distribution of fishes but in understanding the economic, social and ecological interactions inherent in all fisheries.