The report published on August 29 in the journal Science Advances is also available online through the American Association for the Advancement of Science website EurekAlert.
Researchers said their conclusions take into consideration the projected fish populations decline as the ocean warms and habitats change.
The study points out that under a best management scenario, some major fish and shellfish stocks that are commercially harvested will grow and become more profitable offsetting others projected to shrink or even disappear. It also indicates that on a global average, profitability could rise by 14 billion US dollars and harvest by 217 million metric tons above today’s levels.
In the model used for the study, growth would be achieved under the projected moderate warming of 2.2 degrees Celsius (3.9 degrees Fahrenheit) above average global temperatures by 2100. But if temperatures rise further, global fish harvest and profits are expected to decline below today’s levels even with best management practice in place.
Their message, researchers said, is that oceans can continue to be a source of healthy seafood and sustainable livelihoods for billions of people only if actions are taken to manage stocks well and limit the carbon emissions that drive climate change.
“By working toward development of adaptive fishery management strategies and committing to international agreements for climate change mitigation and emission reductions, the future may be overall brighter than so far anticipated,” said Jorge Garcia Molinos an aquatic ecologist at Hokkaido University. Still this potentially brighter future appears unattainable for nearly half of the 915 species and mixed groups of species analyzed, and the tropics will be especially hard hit, he indicated.
Researchers said their work represents the first such study incorporating both climate change projections and alternative management approaches into predictions of future fishery status.
Participants in the study were from Hokkaido University, the University of California Santa Barbara, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, and the Environmental Defense Fund. Their work was funded by Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports Science and Technology and three private US foundations.