University Of Tasmania
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Hot fish: the response to climate change by regional fisheries bodies

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 19:15 authored by Jonathan Sumby, Marcus HawardMarcus Haward, Elizabeth FultonElizabeth Fulton, Gretta PeclGretta Pecl
This paper explores institutional responses from Regional Fisheries Bodies (RFBs) to climate change. Fisheries management is highly dependent on the stability or predictability of targeted fish populations. Oceanic changes occurring as a result of climate change will see continuing and potentially irreversible deviations from the conditions of fisheries past. These changes present challenges to fisheries management at all scales – from local to international – relating to food security, sustainability, and ecological integrity. Areas of measurably warmer ocean, or ‘hotspots’, are a very clear indicator of direct climate change effects. RFBs with hotspots in their areas of competence were chosen for this study. Three levels of institutional engagement were developed: Awareness of climate change; Learning about climate change; Action taken by the institutions. While 94% of institutions demonstrated awareness of climate change and 82% demonstrated learning about climate change, only 41% demonstrated some form of action; and these were mainly procedural and administrative. Only two of the RFBs considered made explicit statements about incorporating climate change into future fishing management plans. The inference is that RFBs are largely practising business-as-usual, with the implication that many exploited fish populations will face additional survival pressure as the sea around them alters.


Publication title

Marine Policy



Article number









Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Elsevier Sci Ltd

Place of publication

The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford, England, Oxon, Ox5 1Gb

Rights statement

Copyright 2020 Elsevier Ltd.

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Fisheries - wild caught not elsewhere classified; Adaptation to climate change not elsewhere classified; Institutional arrangements