The main effects of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture and the development and implementation of adaptation measures

Project title: ClimeFish

Partners: VESO Chile, CETMAR, CSIC, ICES, Institute of Marine Research, Syntesa, Biology Center CAS, Nofima, Stockholm University. FEAP, HAKI. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, NTU, BTU, HCMR, University of Sterling, University of Aberdeen, Università Ca 'Foscari, Memorial University, University of Tromso

Research Fund: Horizon 2020

Initial year: 2016

Service Category:

Environmental research


Jónas Rúnar Viðarsson

Director of Business and Development

ClimeFish was an extensive research project carried out under the umbrella of the European Research and Innovation Program and was intended to examine the effects of climate change on aquaculture and fisheries in Europe, while assessing adaptability, actions and the organization of adaptation work.

Over two dozen different aquaculture and fishing areas (case studies) across Europe were included in the project, using models to predict the likely impact of climate change on production and productivity by 2050. Risk factor analysis and risk assessment were carried out in part of the regions, where economic and social factors were taken into account. Finally, adaptation plans were set up, based on the results of the forecast models and the risk assessment, using a special methodology developed within the project.

Research results presented in the shadow of the coronavirus epidemic in Italy

The ClimeFish project ended with an impressive final conference held at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, Italy at the end of February, with the FAO participating in the project. Despite being held in the shadow of the onset of the coronavirus epidemic in Italy, the conference was well attended, where the main results of the project were presented by the project's researchers. Matís supervised the part of the project that concerned the development of methodologies for setting up adaptation plans for aquaculture and the fisheries sector, and it was Jónas R. Viðarsson and Ragnhildur Friðriksdóttir who presented the results on the second day of the conference.

The results of seven case studies were presented at the conference, including fish and mussel farming in the sea in Greece and Spain, pond farming in Hungary, fishing in Lake Garda in Italy, pelagic fishing in the Northeast Atlantic and demersal fishing in the west of Scotland. The effects of climate change on various aspects of production according to model calculations were presented, including effects on the growth rate of farmed species, the distribution and migration patterns of commercial stocks, fishing mortality, food supply and the likelihood of eutrophication of nutrients and algae flowers. It stated, among other things, that models indicate a slight increase in the biomass of the spawning stock of mackerel by the year 2050 in the Northeast Atlantic, but a decrease of 8-15% in Norwegian-Icelandic spawning herring during the same period. In addition, the models showed a slight shift in the distribution of pelagic stocks to the southwest, but it is likely that such a change will further increase the level of complexity that has arisen in coastal states' negotiations on the division of stocks.

Risks and opportunities due to climate change

The main results of the risk assessment were also presented, but the risk assessment also took into account the positive effects of climate change on the sector in question, but in many cases models showed a positive effect of temperature increase on production capacity. In addition to presenting the results of each region's risk assessment, there were various risks due to climate change that proved to be common in each sector. It is worth mentioning that a common risk due to climate change for fishing in the sea was changes in catch composition, either due to relocation to the distribution area or changes in stock size. Other risks that proved common in fishing in the sea included changes in growth rate and recruitment, increased distance to fishing grounds and damage to fishing gear and other infrastructure due to increased weather intrusion. Last but not least, the increased complexity of quota allocation was considered a likely consequence of climate change in fisheries. Common effects of climate change in fishing and freshwater fishing included changes in food supply, recruitment and declines, an increase in harmful algae blooms, diseases and invasive species, access to fresh water and not least an increase in production costs due to the aforementioned effects. In aquaculture in the sea, the main risks were changes in growth rate, increased variability in size, shifts in growing seasons, increased declines and changed farming conditions that can lead to increased incidence of diseases and parasites, and not least, increased production costs. Areas that are now considered ideal areas for aquaculture can also change for the worse, with the result that aquaculture areas change with the associated increased level of complexity due to the allocation of fishing and aquaculture areas.

Various adaptation measures were presented at the conference as part of the climate change adaptation plans developed for each region. These adaptation plans were compiled according to a methodology developed within the project, which took into account the results of forecasting models for the likely effects of climate change and the risk factors that were most likely to have the greatest impact. Common adaptation measures in fisheries at sea included a review of the quota division system, the development of more persistent fishing gear with increased selectivity and a stronger infrastructure, a change of emphasis in marketing and measures towards increased safety and control of infrastructure. In aquaculture in sea and freshwater, measures such as increased control of various production factors (such as oxygen, temperature, reductions and reductions), increased emphasis on breeding, development of more durable infrastructure, development of automatic feeding and cleaning equipment and improved ocean and coastal zoning.

Matís intends to use the results for continued work in Iceland

All presentations from the conference in Rome can be found on the project's website, There you can also find a link to a website where all the main results have been summarized for each fishing and farming area, with maps and interactive information. Matís is now aiming for further work in this field and intends to use the methodology developed within the ClimeFish project to examine the effects of climate change on the Icelandic fisheries and aquaculture, assess the need for adaptation and possible adaptation measures, but little work has been done in this field in Iceland. . It is hoped that the important experience gained within the ClimeFish project in assessing the need for adaptation and desirable adaptation measures in fisheries and aquaculture across Europe can be used to examine similar aspects in Iceland.

See more