Can Improved Management Insulate Fisheries from Climate Change?

Sunday, February 19, 2017: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Room 310 (Hynes Convention Center)
Christopher Costello, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA
The world’s oceans provide critically important benefits to people, supplying food and livelihoods to millions of individuals across the globe. Shifting geographic ranges and changes in productivity arising from climate change will profoundly impact these ecosystem services. While the ecological effects of climate change in the oceans have been widely studied, the possible responses of people and management institutions have received much less attention. Understanding current status of global fisheries, management effectiveness around the world, and possible approaches for adapting to climate change are all crucial for building an understanding of the effects of climate change on the oceans and what can be done about it. In this study, we take a step towards integrating human and ecological responses to climate change by examining how different management regimes and climate change scenarios may impact the future of global fisheries. We pair a climate velocity model with surplus production models of fish stocks to explore a number of future scenarios for 776 species spanning the world’s oceans. We test two starting points for global fisheries. The first assumes that all stocks are currently managed for maximum catch potential. The second is that stocks are, on average, overfished, according to a recent global analysis. These two starting points are combined with management institutions to create the following four scenarios for global fisheries under climate change: 1) “Ecosystem Effects Only,” where fisheries are, and will continue to be, managed for maximum food provision; 2) “Status Quo,” where current status and forecasts are derived using empirical estimates of fishing mortality; 3) “Economically Optimal,” where management of each stock is individually optimized for economic well-being; and 4) “Climate Driven Management Failure,” where the movement of fish stocks across international borders drives institutional failure in fishery management. Comparison of trajectories and outcomes across these four scenarios allows us to examine a range of possible futures of global fisheries under climate change. Ultimately, because many global fisheries face both management failures and climate change impacts, we ask whether it is possible to improve the future of global fisheries, despite the adverse impacts of climate change. We conclude that by enacting sound management reforms now, most global fisheries could be better-off in the future than they are today, despite the negative effects of climate change that have been widely reported by previous analyses.