University Of Tasmania

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Safeguarding the future of oceanic fisheries under climate change depends on timely preparation

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 08:42 authored by Salinger, J, Hobday, AJ
Marine fisheries play a crucial role in providing food security and livelihoods, particularly in developing countries. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), fish comprises about 20% of the animal protein in the diets of over 2.8 billion people. The contribution of fish to dietary animal protein can reach 50% in the world’s poorest regions, and up to 90% in small island developing-states. Absence of property rights coupled with fisher and management perceptions that fisheries resources are infinite have seen many fisheries experience the so-called ‘tragedy of the commons’ (Hardin 1968). Many fish stocks have been declining, and as Brander (2013) notes full global exploitation of the most productive fish stocks probably occurred around 1990, with many fisheries now classed as over-exploited. For nearly 500 years north-east Atlantic fishing grounds, such as the Grand Banks off Newfoundland, offered up an amazing catch until the 20th century when the fishing effort began to seriously depress cod stocks (Jackson 2001; Hilborn and Litzinger 2009). Stocks dwindled and dwindled, and in Newfoundland abruptly collapsed in 1989. In 1992 that fishery was formally closed, throwing thousands of Canadian fishers out of work; it has not recovered and given evidence that an alternate state has arisen (Rose 2004; Frank et al. 2005), recovery to previous levels is seen as a distant prospect, particularly as new research shows evidence of depletion beginning hundreds of years earlier (Jackson et al. 2011). Similarly, North Sea cod stocks reached free-fall in decade 2000. International landings of North Sea cod have dropped from a peak of 341,000 tonnes in 1972 to a current low of only 41,000 tonnes. Cod, haddock and whiting in the North Sea are all described by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), as being “below safe biological limits”. These are not isolated examples, and despite varying opinions on the state of fisheries (Myers and Worm 2003; Worm et al. 2009), fully exploited capture fisheries stocks have remained at about 50% since 1950, while under- or moderately exploited stocks have decreased from 40 to 18% (FAO; Brander 2013).


Publication title

Climatic Change








Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Kluwer Academic Publ

Place of publication

Van Godewijckstraat 30, Dordrecht, Netherlands, 3311 Gz

Rights statement

Copyright 2012 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Understanding climate change not elsewhere classified