Skip to main content

Climate change implications for Torres Strait fisheries: assessing vulnerability to inform adaptation

Abstract

Climate change impacts on marine fisheries are being observed in tropical regions, including northern Australia and the Pacific. In the Torres Strait, Islanders have a long association with their sea country that holds significant cultural, social and economic importance. Future impacts of climate change on marine fisheries stocks and supporting habitats will affect Torres Strait Islander communities. We assessed the relative vulnerability of 15 key fishery species in Torres Strait using a semi-quantitative framework modified from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that integrated both ecological and social indicators of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity. The assessment identified species with high, medium and low vulnerability to projected climate change in 2030. The species assessed as having the highest vulnerability were: Holothuria whitmaei (black teatfish), Pinctada margaritifera (black-lipped pearl oyster), Dugong dugon (dugong), and Trochus niloticus (trochus). A separate prioritisation process that considered the cultural and economic value of species identified three high priority species for future management focus: D. dugon, marine turtles (principally Chelonia mydas) and Panulirus ornatus (tropical rock lobster). These results can inform fishers and managers to prepare for the effects of climate change and minimise impacts. The relatively healthy condition of most fisheries in the Torres Strait is likely to assist successful adaptation.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  • [Australian] Bureau of Meterology and CSIRO (2011) Climate Change in the Pacific: Scientific Assessment and New Research. Volume 1: Regional Overview.

  • AFMA (2013) Torres Strait tropical Rock lobster fishery: 2013 annual report. Report by Australian Fisheries Management Authority to Department of Environment, Canberra. http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/pages/f4ae5c17-95eb-4396-9197-fbf7fe21bcfd/files/ts-trl-2013-annual-report.pdf

  • Allison EH, Perry AL, Badjeck M-C, et al. (2009) Vulnerability of national economies to the impacts of climate change on fisheries. Fish Fish 10(2):173–196

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bell I, Ariel E (2011) Dietary shift in green turtles. In: McKenzie LJ, Yoshida RL, Unsworth R (Eds.), Seagrass-Watch News, Issue 44. 32pp.

  • Bell JD, Johnson JE, Hobday AJ, et al. (2011a) Vulnerability of tropical Pacific fisheries and aquaculture to climate change: summary for countries and territories. Secretariat of Pacific Community, Noumea, New Caledonia

    Google Scholar 

  • Bell JD, Johnson JE, Hobday AJ (eds) (2011b) Vulnerability of tropical Pacific fisheries and aquaculture to climate change. Secretariat of Pacific Community, Noumea, New Caledonia

    Google Scholar 

  • Bell JD, Ganachaud A, Gehrke PC, Griffiths SP, Hobday AJ, Hoegh-Guldberg O, Johnson JE, et al. (2013) Mixed responses of tropical Pacific fisheries and aquaculture to climate change. Nat Clim Chang 3:591–599

    Google Scholar 

  • Bertram I (1998) Trochus commercial prospects for the Cook Islands, Information Paper No.1. Rarotonga, Commercial Development Assistance, Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources. 15pp.

  • Brander K (2010) Impacts of climate change on fisheries. J Mar Syst 79(3–4):389–402. doi:10.1016/j.jmarsys.2008.12.015

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Byrne M (2011) Impact of ocean warming and ocean acidification on marine invertebrate life history stages: vulnerabilities and potential for persistence in a changing ocean. Oceanogr Mar Biol: Annu Rev 49:1–42

    Google Scholar 

  • Carpenter SR, Gunderson LH (2001) Coping with collapse: ecological and social dynamics in Ecosystem Management. Bioscience 51(6):451–457

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cinner JE, Huchery C, Darling ES, et al. (2013) Evaluating social and ecological vulnerability of coral reef fisheries to climate change. PLoS One 8(9):e74321. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074321

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Climate Commission (2013) The critical decade: extreme weather. Department Of Climate Change And Energy Efficiency. Australian Government, Canberra, 12 pp

  • Foden WB et al. (2013) Identifying the World’s most climate change vulnerable species: a systematic trait-based assessment of all birds, amphibians and corals. PLoS One 8(6):e65427. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065427

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fuentes M, Limpus C, Hamann M, Dawson J (2010) Potential impacts of projected sea-level rise on sea turtle rookeries. Aquat Conserv Mar Freshwat Ecosyst 20:132–139. doi:10.1002/aqc.1088

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ganachaud AS, Sen Gupta A, Orr JC, et al. (2011) Observed and expected changes to the tropical Pacific Ocean. In: Bell JD, Johnson JE, Hobday AJ (eds) Vulnerability of tropical Pacific fisheries and aquaculture to climate change. Secretariat of Pacific Community

  • Georgeson L, Stobutzki I, Curlotti R (eds) (2014) Fishery status reports 2013–14. Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra, 504 pp

  • Gervis MH, Sims NA (1992) The biology and culture of pearl oysters (bivalvia:pteriidae). ICLARM Stud Rev 21:49 pp

  • Grayson J, Marsh H, Hamann M (2006) Information to assist Torres Strait Islanders manage their traditional fisheries for dugongs and green turtles. Final project report prepared for the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia, 48 pp

  • Hawkes LA, Broderick AC, Godfrey MH, Godley BJ (2009) Climate change and marine turtles. Endanger Species Res 7:137–154

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Holbrook NJ, Johnson JE (2014) Climate change impacts and adaptation of commercial marine fisheries in Australia: a review of the science. Clim Chang 124:703–715

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] (2007) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. IPCC Secretariat, Geneva

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] (2013) Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to IPCC 5th Assessment Report – Changes to the underlying Scientific/Technical Assessment (Eds Solomon S. et al.) Cambridge University Press, UK and New York.

  • Johannes RE, MacFarlane W (1991) Traditional fishing in the Tomes Strait islands. CSIRO, Hobart, Australia

    Google Scholar 

  • Johnson JE, Marshall PA (eds) (2007) Climate change and the great barrier reef: a vulnerability assessment. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Australian Government

    Google Scholar 

  • Johnson JE, Welch DJ (2010) Marine fisheries management in a changing climate: a review of vulnerability. Rev Fish Sci 18(1):106–124

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Johnson JE, Welch DJ, Maynard JA, Bell JD, Pecl G, Tobin A, Robins J, Saunders T (2015) Operationalizing vulnerability concepts: The evolution of a semi-quantitative method for assessing vulnerability to climate change to inform adaptation. Biological Conservation (in press).

  • Knutson TR, McBride JL, Chan J, et al. (2010) Tropical cyclones and climate change. Nat Geosci 21:157–163

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Knutti R, Sedláĉek J (2013) Robustness and uncertainties in new CMIP5 climate model projections. Nat Clim Chang 3:369–373

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kwan D, Marsh H, Delean S (2006) Factors affecting the customary hunting of a threatened marine mammal by a remote indigenous community. Environ Conserv 33:164–171

    Google Scholar 

  • Lough JM, Hobday AJ (2011) Observed climate change in Australian marine and freshwater environments. Mar Freshw Res 62:984–999

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lough JM, Meehl GA, Salinger MJ (2011) Observed and projected changes in surface climate of the tropical Pacific. In: Bell J, Johnson JE, Hobday AJ (eds) Vulnerability of tropical Pacific fisheries and aquaculture to climate change. Secretariat of Pacific Community, Noumea, New Caledonia

    Google Scholar 

  • Marsh H, Kwan D (2008) Temporal variability in the life history and reproductive biology of female dugongs in Torres Strait: the likely role of sea grass dieback. Cont Shelf Res 28:2152–2159

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Marshall NA, Marshall PA (2007) Conceptualizing and operationalizing social resilience within commercial fisheries in Northern Australia. Ecol Soc 12(1):1

    Google Scholar 

  • Marshall NA, Marshall PA, Tamelander J, Obura D, Malleret-King D, Cinner JE (2010) A framework for social adaptation to climate change; sustaining tropical Coastal Communities And Industries. Gland, Switzerland, IUCN, 36 pp

  • McKenzie L, Yoshida R, Grech A, Coles R (2010) Queensland seagrasses. Status 2010 – Torres Strait and East Coast. Fisheries Queensland (DEEDI), Cairns, 6pp.

  • Meager JJ, Limpus CJ (2012) Marine wildlife stranding and mortality database annual report 2011. Dugong. Conserv Tech Data Rep 2011(1):1–30

    Google Scholar 

  • Mercier A, Battaglene SC, Hamel JF (2000) Settlement preferences and early migration of the tropical sea cucumber, Holothuria scabra. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 249(1):89–110

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Murphy NE, Skewes TD, Filewood F, David C, Seden P, Jones A (2011) The recovery of the Holothuria scabra (sandfish) population on warrior reef. Torres Strait. CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship, CMAR, Cleveland, 44 pp

  • Nakicenovic N, Swart R (eds) (2000) IPCC special report on emissions scenarios. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Norman-López A, Plagányi ÉE, Skewes T, Poloczanska E, Dennis D, Gibbs M, Bayliss P (2013) Linking physiological, population and socio-economic assessments of climate-change impacts on fisheries. Fish Res. doi:10.1016/j.fishres.2012.02.026

    Google Scholar 

  • Pecl GT, Ward TM, Doubleday ZA, et al. (2014) Rapid assessment of fisheries species sensitivity to climate change. Clim Chang. doi:10.1007/s10584-014-1284-z

    Google Scholar 

  • Pike DA, Stiner JC (2007) Sea turtle species vary in their susceptibility to tropical cyclones. Oceologia 153:471–478

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pitcher CR, Turnbull CT, Atfield J, Griffin D, Dennis D, Skewes T (2005) Biology, larval transport modelling and commercial logbook data analysis to support management of the NE Queensland rock lobster, Panulirus ornatus, fishery. Final Report to Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Project 2002/008.

  • Plagányi E, Weeks SJ, Skewes TD, et al. (2011) Assessing the adequacy of current fisheries management under changing climate: a southern synopsis. ICES J Mar Sci 68(6):1305–1317

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Plagányi E, Skewes TD, Downey NA, Haddon M (2013) Risk management tools for sustainable fisheries management under changing climate: a sea cucumber example. Clim Chang 119:181–197

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Puotinen ML (2007) Modelling the risk of cyclone wave damage to coral reefs using GIS: a case study of the great barrier reef, 1969–2003. Int J Geogr Inf Sci 21:97–120

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schneider SH, Semenov S, Patwardhan A, et al. (2007) Assessing key vulnerabilities and the risk from climate change, 779–810. In: Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. ML Parry, et al. (Eds) Cambridge University Press, UK.

  • SEWPaC [Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities] (2012) Assessment of the Torres Strait trochus fishery. Sustainability report, Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Canberra, ACT

    Google Scholar 

  • Shiell GR, Uthicke S (2006) Reproduction of the commercial sea cucumber Holothuria whitmaei [holothuroidea:aspidochirotida] in the Indian and Pacific Ocean regions of Australia. Mar Biol 148(5):973–986

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Suppiah R, Bathols J, Collier M, Kent D, O’Grady J (2010) Observed and future climates of the Torres Strait region. CSIRO report to Torres Strait Regional Authority.

    Google Scholar 

  • Torres Strait Fisheries Assessment Group (1999) The Torres Strait pearl fishery 1998. Fisheries Assessment Report, Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra

    Google Scholar 

  • TSRA [Torres Strait Regional Authority] (2011) Torres Strait extreme Water level study: final report Report by Systems Engineering Australia, 386 pp

  • Uthicke S, Welch DJ, Benzie JAH (2004) Slow growth and lack of recovery in overfished holothurians on the great barrier reef: evidence from DNA fingerprints and repeated large-scale surveys. Conserv Biol 18(5):1395–1404

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • van Putten I, Lalancette A, Bayliss P, et al. (2013) A Bayesian model of factors influencing indigenous participation in the Torres Strait tropical rocklobster fishery. Mar Policy 37:96–105

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Waycott M, McKenzie L, Mellors J, Ellison J, Sheaves M, Collier C, Schwarz AM, Webb A, Johnson JE, Payri C (2011) Chapter 6: vulnerability of mangrove, seagrass and intertidal sand and mud flat habitats in the tropical Pacific to climate change In: vulnerability of tropical Pacific fisheries and aquaculture to climate change, eds bell JD, Johnson JE. Hobday AJ, Secretariat of Pacific Community, Noumea, New Caledonia

    Google Scholar 

  • Welch DJ, Johnson JE (2013) Assessing the vulnerability of Torres Strait fisheries and supporting habitats to climate change. Report to Australian Fisheries Management Authority. C2O Fisheries, 114pp.

  • Welch DJ, Saunders T, Robins J, Harry A, Johnson JE, Maynard J, Saunders R, Pecl G, Sawynok B, Tobin A (2014) Implications of climate change on fisheries resources of northern Australia. Part 1: Vulnerability assessment and adaptations. FRDC Project 2010/565 Report. James Cook University, Townsville, 236pp.

  • Welladsen HM, Southgate PC, Heimann K (2010) The effects of exposure to near-future levels of ocean acidification on shell characteristics of Pinctada fucata (bivalvia:pteriidae). Molluscan Res 30(3):125–130

    Google Scholar 

  • Woodhams J, Vieira S, Stobutzki I (eds) (2012) Fishery status report 2011. Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra

    Google Scholar 

  • Zhao B, Zhang S, Qian P-Y (2003) Larval settlement of the silver- or gold-lip pearl oyster Pinctada maxima in response to natural biofilms and chemical cues. Aquaculture 220:883–901

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the Australian Fisheries Management Authority and Protected Zone Joint Authority for supporting this project. They would also like to thank the Torres Strait Regional Authority for their assistance, the local stakeholders who gave up their time to be interviewed, and the many scientific experts who inputted to the assessment.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Johanna E. Johnson.

Electronic supplementary material

ESM 1

(DOCX 157 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Johnson, J.E., Welch, D.J. Climate change implications for Torres Strait fisheries: assessing vulnerability to inform adaptation. Climatic Change 135, 611–624 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-015-1583-z

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-015-1583-z

Keywords

  • Coral Reef
  • Adaptive Capacity
  • Torres Strait Islander
  • Seagrass Meadow
  • Pearl Oyster