Fisheries climate change review

Helping the Environmental Defense Fund engage with the EU on the future of fisheries governance in response to climate change

Climate-related impacts on the range and distribution of commercial fish stocks are likely to intensify in coming decades, and will increasingly challenge existing institutions and governance arrangements that manage associated fisheries. As a result, fisheries science and management face new challenges to meet the needs of a dynamic ecosystem.

ABPmer was commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Europe to research existing fisheries governance arrangements in the North East Atlantic, and draw on international case studies to identify the key features required to build an adaptive, flexible governance framework that can respond to climate-related impacts, such as changes to stock abundance and distribution.

We found that:

  • An over-arching framework is needed, with all relevant parties involved, to coordinate setting catch limits, management measures and quota allocation mechanisms;
  • Fisheries management and governance systems need to be flexible and adaptable, with built-in mechanisms for addressing changing ecosystem dynamics;
  • A long-term agreement, with periodic revisiting and review, can provide the necessary stability with appropriate flexibility;
  • Quota trading arrangements, incentive structures and transitional arrangements can help with the move to new systems;
  • Implementation and enforcement are necessary, as well as effective dispute resolution mechanisms;
  • The whole system needs to be underpinned by responsive, robust science.

The results were discussed at a workshop hosted by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, and used by the EDF to help secure engagement with the EU, other state governments and industry.