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Marine Fisheries Management in a Changing Climate: A Review of Vulnerability and Future Options

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Marine capture fisheries are an important source of protein globally, with coastal and oceanic fish providing a rich source of essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Fisheries also support economies and important social structures in many nations, particularly developing nations (Allison et al., 2009). Marine fisheries are under increasing threat from climate change, with climate change now identified as the latest threat to the world's fast declining fish stocks (UNEP, 2008; Cochrane et al., 2009). Marine fisheries will be exposed to increasing sea surface temperatures, ocean acidification, sea level rise, increasing storm intensity and altered ocean circulation, and rainfall patterns that will affect target species through a range of direct and indirect mechanisms. The sensitivity of fish stocks to these changes will determine the range of potential impacts to life cycles, species distributions, community structure, productivity, connectivity, organism performance, recruitment dynamics, prevalence of invasive species, and access to marine resources by fishers. Many fisheries are already experiencing changes in target species diversity and abundance, species distribution, and habitat area, as well as loss of fishing effort due to intensifying storms (Johnson and Marshall, 2007; Hobday et al., 2008; UNEP, 2008). Using a vulnerability assessment framework, we examine the level of vulnerability of marine fisheries to climate change and the factors that will temper vulnerability, such as adaptive capacity. Assessing fisheries vulnerability to climate change is essential to prioritize systems in greatest need of intervention, understand the drivers of vulnerability to identify future research directions, and more importantly, to review current fisheries management with the view to develop management responses that will be effective in securing the future sustainability of marine fisheries.
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Keywords: adaptation; climate change; marine ecosystems; marine fisheries; vulnerability

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: C2O-coasts climate oceans, Townsville, Australia 2: Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries, Townsville, Australia,Fishing and Fisheries Research Centre, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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