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Economics of Climate Resilience: Sea Fish

Executive summary

This report addresses the question:

“What is the case for further intervention to maximise the potential opportunities for the UK that arise from the climate-change-driven movement of wild sea fish stock in response to ocean warming, whilst minimising potential adverse effects?”

Projected opportunities and threats

Projected opportunities and threats Rising sea temperatures, as projected by UKCP091, are expected to impact marine fish stocks and their distribution in the UK Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ2). A key expected impact is a move northwards of some cold-water species currently popular in the UK, such as cod and haddock, out of the UK EEZ (Pinnegar et al., 2012).

However, the projected movements of warm water species, (e.g. squid, anchovy and sea bass), into the UK EEZ balances this effect. A global review of the impacts of climate change on fish yields by Cheung et al., (2009b) estimates that overall, the UK would benefit from increased net yields of 1-2% between 2009-2050. Achieving this relatively low net positive effect requires action to maximise opportunities.

Sophisticated modelling techniques, applied by Jones et al., (2012), project increases in habitat suitability within the UK EEZ for a number of warm-water species (Table 1). However, projecting the future impacts of climate change on fish yields for the UK fishing industry is complex and uncertain and although current projections use the best available models, they are subject to uncertainty. This is, in part, owing to uncertainties around the projected change in seatemperatures; the consequent impact on fish stocks and their distribution; and,the impacts of non-climate change drivers on habitat suitability.

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