, Volume 119, Issue 1, pp 23-35

A brief introduction to the issue of climate and marine fisheries

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Abstract

Climatic variability has profound effects on the distribution, abundance and catch of oceanic fish species around the world. The major modes of this climate variability include the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) also referred to as the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO), the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). Other modes of climate variability include the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation (NPGO), the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) and the Arctic Oscillation (AO). ENSO events are the principle source of interannual global climate variability, centred in the ocean–atmosphere circulations of the tropical Pacific Ocean and operating on seasonal to interannual time scales. ENSO and the strength of its climate teleconnections are modulated on decadal timescales by the IPO. The time scale of the IOD is seasonal to interannual. The SAM in the mid to high latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere operates in the range of 50–60 days. A prominent teleconnection pattern throughout the year in the Northern Hemisphere is the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) which modulates the strength of the westerlies across the North Atlantic in winter, has an impact on the catches of marine fisheries. ENSO events affect the distribution of tuna species in the equatorial Pacific, especially skipjack tuna as well as the abundance and distribution of fish along the western coasts of the Americas. The IOD modulates the distribution of tuna populations and catches in the Indian Ocean, whilst the NAO affects cod stocks heavily exploited in the Atlantic Ocean. The SAM, and its effects on sea surface temperatures influence krill biomass and fisheries catches in the Southern Ocean. The response of oceanic fish stocks to these sources of climatic variability can be used as a guide to the likely effects of climate change on these valuable resources.

This article is part of the Special Issue on “Climate and Oceanic Fisheries” with Guest Editor James Salinger.