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Shifting Habitats Expose Fishing Communities To Risk Under Climate Change

June 26, 2019 |

This paper was originally published in Nature Climate Change

Abstract: Climate change is expected to have a profound impact on the distribution, abundance and diversity of marine species globally1,2. These ecological impacts of climate change will affect human communities dependent on fisheries for livelihoods and well-being3. While methods for assessing the vulnerability of species to climate change are rapidly developing4 and socio-ecological vulnerability assessments for fisheries are becoming available5, there has been less work devoted to understanding how impacts differ across fishing communities.

We developed a linked socio-ecological approach to assess the exposure of fishing communities to risk from climate change, and present a case study of New England and Mid-Atlantic (USA) fishing communities. We found that the northern part of the study region was projected to gain suitable habitat and the southern part projected to lose suitable habitat for many species, but the exposure of fishing communities to risk was strongly dependent on both their spatial use of the ocean and their portfolio of species caught.

A majority of fishing communities were projected to face declining future fishing opportunities unless they adapt, either through catching new species or fishing in new locations. By integrating climatic, ecological and socio-economic data at a scale relevant to fishing communities, this analysis identifies where strategies for adapting to the ecological impacts of climate change will be most needed…”

Read on and access the full paper at: Nature Climate Change.

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