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Rapid assessment of fisheries species sensitivity to climate change

Abstract

Climate change driven alterations in the distribution and abundance of marine species, and the timing of their life history events (phenology), are being reported around the globe. However, we have limited capacity to detect and predict these responses, even for comparatively well studied commercial fishery species. Fisheries provide significant socio-economic benefits for many coastal communities, and early warning of potential changes to fish stocks will provide managers and other stakeholders with the best opportunity to adapt to these impacts. Rapid assessment methods that can estimate the sensitivity of species to climate change in a wide range of contexts are needed. This study establishes an objective, flexible and cost effective framework for prioritising future ecological research and subsequent investment in adaptation responses in the face of resource constraints. We build on an ecological risk assessment framework to assess relative sensitivities of commercial species to climate change drivers, specifically in relation to their distribution, abundance and phenology, and demonstrate our approach using key species within the fast warming region of south-eastern Australia. Our approach has enabled fisheries managers to understand likely changes to fisheries under a range of climate change scenarios, highlighted critical research gaps and priorities, and assisted marine industries to identify adaptation strategies that maximise positive outcomes.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Elsa Gärtner, Luisa Forbes, Fiona Brodribb, Jemina Stuart-Smith and Ben Chuwen for assisting with this work. State agency and Commonwealth resource managers provided jurisdictional priority species rankings. This study was undertaken under the guidance of the El-nemo SEAP Program Management Committee with Ingrid Holliday and Dallas D’Silva coordinating the program. The authors thank the individuals who contributed to, edited or reviewed the species assessments and/or provided expertise for the sensitivity assessment process. This was FRDC project 2009–070 with funding provided through the El Nemo—South Eastern Australia Program, supported by the VDPI, PIRSA, Industry & Investment NSW, Tasmanian DPIPWE, AFMA, FRDC, CSIRO, SARDI, IMAS, Commonwealth DAFF and was also supported through funding from the Australian Government’s Climate Change Research Program.

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Correspondence to Gretta T. Pecl.

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Pecl, G.T., Ward, T.M., Doubleday, Z.A. et al. Rapid assessment of fisheries species sensitivity to climate change. Climatic Change 127, 505–520 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-014-1284-z

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Keywords

  • Ecological Risk Assessment
  • Attribute Category
  • Sensitivity Assessment
  • Rock Lobster
  • Fishery Species