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IJMS Editor's Choice - Accounting for shifting distributions and changing productivity

The latest Editor’s Choice article from the ICES Journal of Marine Science is now available. Here, read recommendations to fisheries management in how to better respond to climate-related shifts in species distributions and changing productivity.
Published: 23 April 2019

​​Climate-related shifts in species distributions and changes in productivity present challenges for fisheries management. Changes in ocean ecosystems (temperature, oxygen, habitat, etc.) can affect species distributions as they shift to track their preferred conditions. These shifts can affect fisheries (e.g., where and when to fish) and fisheries management (e.g., governance, allocations) as species cross management boundaries. Changes in ocean ecosystem conditions can also affect species vital rates, such as mortality, maturity, recruitment, fecundity, and growth, leading to changes in stock productivity and the amount of fish available to be caught. 

In this paper, the authors identify six steps in the science-to-management process and offer recommendations to better account for and respond to climate-related shifts in species distributions and changing productivity in fisheries management:

  1. Detect and anticipate changes
  2. Understand key drivers of changes
  3. Evaluate priorities and risks
  4. Conduct assessments and develop forecasts
  5. Communicate scientific advice to management
  6. Manage fisheries under changing conditions

The first step underscores that having information to detect and understand changes is critical to developing appropriate management approaches that account for and can respond to changing conditions. To do this, the authors call for continued monitoring efforts, adaptive and flexible surveys, and process-oriented research. Other key recommendations include leveraging the capacity of fishermen and citizen science programs, operationalizing advanced sampling technologies that can collect information at appropriate temporal and spatial scales, and using electronic technologies to more efficiently collect fishery-dependent data.

The authors recognize that it may not be possible to focus on all stocks at once, and therefore a key recommendation is to use risk and vulnerability assessments to identify stocks and ecosystems that are most at risk from changing conditions and thus may be higher priority for addressing climate effects.

Faced with shifting species distributions and changing productivity, the authors highlight the continued need for better integration of science and management throughout the process.  With increasing demand for information on what's changing and how to respond, the authors call for increased collaboration across fisheries science and management to explore future scenarios, plan for emerging fisheries, re-evaluate spatial and temporal management procedures, and develop responsive harvest control rules.

“Overall, the recommendations identified in this paper, if enacted at appropriate regional and national levels, will better equip fisheries science and management agencies to prepare for and respond to changing climate and ocean conditions, and thereby improve stewardship of the living marine resources upon which many people, businesses and communities depend." (Karp et al. 2019)   

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Paper title: 
Accounting for shifting distributions and changing productivity in the development of scientific advice for fishery management

Authors: 
Melissa A. Karp, Jay O. Peterson, Patrick D. Lynch, Roger B. Griffis, Charles F. Adams, William S. Arnold, Lewis A. K. Barnett, Yvonne deReynier, Jane DiCosimo, Kari H. Fenske, Sarah K. Gaichas, Anne Hollowed, Kirstin Holsman, Mandy Karnauskas, Donald Kobayashi,  Andrew Leising, John P. Manderson, Michelle McClure, Wendy E. Morrison, Erin Schnettler, Andrew Thompson, James T. Thorson, John F. Walter III,  Annie J. Yau,  Richard D.​ Methot,  Jason S. Link

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IJMS Editor's Choice - Accounting for shifting distributions and changing productivity

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