Salmon Watersheds Program

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Impacts of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture

The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement recognizes the need for effective and progressive responses to the urgent threat of climate change, through mitigation and adaptation measures, while taking into account the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems. The inclusion of adaptation measures in the fisheries and aquaculture sector is currently hampered by a widespread lack of targeted analyses of the sector’s vulnerabilities to climate change and associated risks, as well as the opportunities and responses available. This report provides the most up-to-date information on the disaggregated impacts of climate change for marine and inland fisheries, and aquaculture, in the context of poverty alleviation and the differential dependency of countries on fish and fishery resources. The work is based on model projections, data analyses, as well as national, regional and basin-scale expert assessments. The results indicate that climate change will lead to significant changes in the availability and trade of fish products, with potentially important geopolitical and economic consequences, especially for those countries most dependent on the sector. 

The vulnerability of marine fisheries to climate change and existing and potential
responses to adapt to the changes are examined in more detail for 13 different marine regions covering a range of ecological, social and economic conditions. It is concluded that adaptations to climate change must be undertaken within the multifaceted context of fisheries, with any additional measures or actions to address climate change complementing overall governance for sustainable use. It is recognized that some of these measures will require institutional adaptation.

The Technical Paper highlights the multifaceted and interconnected complexity of
fisheries and aquaculture, through which direct and indirect impacts of climate change will materialize. Efforts to adapt to and mitigate climate change should be planned and implemented with full consideration of this complexity. Failure to do so would increase inefficiency and maladaptation, exacerbating rather than reducing impacts.