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Climate change and Future Fish Catch

Overfishing may transform fishes in old times fantasies

Artist vision of the Deep Sea Food Chain

"Deep Sea Food Chain" by Bruce Mahalski, photo by Pieter Pieterse under CC-BY-NC-ND/2.0.


See where Future Fish Catch fits in the Conceptual Framework


Lead author: Daniel Pauly and Vicky W.Y. Lam

In coming decades, the Open Ocean (beyond the 200 mile EEZ) will be increasingly impacted by climate change, as will coastal areas of the ocean. This will significantly influence the fish catch potential of maritime countries, especially those with large EEZs. In turn, implications are large for those countries relying on the fishing industry as mainstay to their economies and livelihoods.

Future climate change will likely have an impact on future fish catch in the open ocean, which may have large implications for the fishing industries, economies and livelihoods of many countries

The results showed an overall predicted reduction of 20% of the potential catch of the Open Ocean to 2030 and 34% to 2050. The strongest declines of potential catch are projected to occur in the inter-tropical belt and Antarctica. For the inter-tropical belt, this is due to increasing stratification, which is predicted to depress primary and secondary production. In this scenario, no fish will replace those tropical fish that migrate poleward. For Antarctica, the life cycle of the currently abundant krill (Euphausia superba) is tied to shelf ice that is expected to melt away. Consequently, the loss of krill will have significant impact on the fish populations already there and migrant fish.

Open ocean potential fish catch is projected to decline by 20% by 2030 and 34% by 2050

These changes were detected using a bioclimate envelope model capable of reproducing and amplifying the observed poleward migration of fishes exploited by fisheries. Such modeling allowed the projection of future fisheries catch potential in each FAO region of the open ocean.

The greatest declines are projected to occur in the inter-tropical belt and in Antarctica
<-50% -50% – -20% -20% – -5% -5% – -1% -1% – 1% 1% – 5% 5% – 10% 10% – 20% 20% – 50% >50%
Fish Catch projection for 2030 and 2050 (in tonnes/year) in the open ocean (EEZ shown in white). Select the projection year in the layers selector.