Transform high seas management to build climate resilience in marine seafood supply

Climate change is projected to redistribute fisheries resources, resulting in tropical regions suffering decreases in seafood production. While sustainably managing marine ecosystems contributes to building climate resilience, these solutions require transformation of ocean governance. Recent studies and international initiatives suggest that conserving high seas biodiversity and fish stocks will have ecological and economic benefits; however, implications for seafood security under climate change have not been examined. Here, we apply global-scale mechanistic species distribution models to 30 major straddling fish stocks to show that transforming high seas fisheries governance could increase resilience to climate change impacts. By closing the high seas to fishing or cooperatively managing its fisheries, we project that catches in exclusive economic zones (EEZs) would likely increase by around 10% by 2050 relative to 2000 under climate change (representative concentration pathway 4.5 and 8.5), compensating for the expected losses (around −6%) from ‘business-as-usual’. Specifically, high seas closure increases the resilience of fish stocks, as indicated by a mean species abundance index, by 30% in EEZs. We suggest that improving high seas fisheries governance would increase the resilience of coastal countries to climate change.

Read the full article in Fish and Fisheries here: