The impact of climate change on fisheries is the topic of an article by Susan Farady, J.D., assistant professor of marine affairs, recently published in Fisheries Magazine, a monthly publication established by the American Fisheries Society, the oldest and largest professional society representing fisheries scientists.
The article, titled “Fisheries and Climate Change: Legal and Management Implications,” focuses on the impact of climate change on the management of fish stocks.
Fisheries management in the U.S. is based on geographic boundaries that determine what species are managed, what management entity is in charge and who gets to catch them.
Managers rely heavily on historical data to assess the status of a fish stock and project what a sustainable level of catch can be. The impacts of climate change are making these geographic boundaries and historically-based assessments obsolete, as species are moving in response to changing ocean conditions and food sources.
Scientists and managers are responding to these challenges in many ways. However, fishery management law is still oriented around a stable marine environment and may not be nimble enough to give managers the tools they need to manage fisheries in a climate-changed ocean.
Seafood represents a significant portion of our nation’s economy. Farady concludes that the fishing industry and managers must plan now and consider how changes to legal authority can support our marine fisheries and our fishing communities.