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Topic: Climate impacts on fisheries resources

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Photo: Erling Svensen / HI

Anthropogenic climate change has mixed impacts on stocks in the North East Atlantic.

Fishing pressure and natural climate variability have historically been the most influential stressors on marine fish resources world-wide. With the increasing impacts of anthropogenic climate change this third factor is becoming an additional prime cause of changes in their abundance and distribution. Assessment of the influence of climate change on fishery resources is, therefore, a pressing issue to support sustainable harvest. 

These kinds of assessments are, however, complex. Scientists from the Institute of Marine Research have applied a hybrid solution combining expert opinions (scorings) with mechanistic approaches to outline how climate change may affect stocks in three different large marine ecosystems: the North, Norwegian and Barents Seas (Kjesbu et al., 2021). This Climate Impact Assessment consists of three components:

  1. Stock Narratives (life-history traits); 
  2. Climate Exposure (drivers), and
  3. integrating the information from the two first points to estimate the Directional Effect, either negative, neutral, or positive, using a relative scale. 

Each Stock Narrative contains of 13 traits, e.g., Habitat Specificity and Complexity in Reproductive Strategy. Climate Exposure consists of 9 traits, e.g., temperature (at the relevant depth) and Gross Primary Production.

The 208-page Supporting Information file of this article provides a list of abbreviations, maps, the experts involved, landing statistics (2018), the underlying climate model runs, biophysical interactions, and the Stock Narratives of each of the 39 stocks so far evaluated. We foresee that this work should be repeated at some later stage when the knowledge about climate projections and effects has further increased. 

The article is published with Open Access and can be read and downloaded here: Highly mixed impacts of near‐future climate change on stock productivity proxies in the North East Atlantic

Figure (click for full scale view)

Map illustrating conclusions from assessment of climate impact on stocks in the North East Atlantic.
Assessed stocks in the North East Atlantic and their general directional effect as a result of predicted climate change (Kjesbu et al. 2021).


Kjesbu, Olav Sigurd, Svein Sundby, Anne B. Sandø, Maud Alix, Solfrid Sætre Hjøllo, Maik Tiedemann,  Mette Skern-Mauritzen, Claudia Junge, Maria Fossheim, Cecilie T. Broms, Guldborg Søvik, Fabian Zimmermann, Kjell Nedreaas, Elena Eriksen, Hannes Höffle, Ann Merete Hjelset, Cecilie Kvamme, Yves Reecht, Halvor Knutsen, Asgeir Aglen, Ole Thomas Albert, Erik Berg, Bjarte Bogstad, Caroline Durif, Kim T. Halvorsen, Åge Høines, Carsten Hvingel, Emil Johannesen, Espen Johnsen, Even Moland, Mari S. Myksvoll, Leif Nøttestad, Erik Olsen, Georg Skaret, Jon Egil Skjæraasen, Aril Slotte, Arnved Staby, Erling Kåre Stenevik, Jan Erik Stiansen, Martina H. Stiasny, Jan H. Sundet, Frode Vikebø og Geir Huse. «Highly mixed impacts of near-future climate change on stock productivity proxies in the North East Atlantic.» Fish and Fisheries, Early view (2021). Link: https://doi.org/10.1111/faf.12635