Accelerated Warming and Emergent Trends in Fisheries Biomass Yields of the World's Large Marine Ecosystems

Sherman, Kenneth; Belkin, Igor M.; Friedland, Kevin D.; O'Reilly, John; Hyde, Kimberly
June 2009
AMBIO - A Journal of the Human Environment;Jun2009, Vol. 38 Issue 4, p215
Academic Journal
Information on the effects of global climate change on trends in global fisheries biomass yields has been limited in spatial and temporal scale. Results are presented of a global study of the impact of sea surface temperature (SST) changes over the last 25 years on the fisheries yields of 63 large marine ecosystems (LMEs) that annually produce 80% of the world's marine fisheries catches. Warming trends were observed in 61 LMEs around the globe. In 18 of the LMEs, rates of SST warming were two to four times faster during the past 25 years than the globally averaged rates of SST warming reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007. Effects of warming on fisheries biomass yields were greatest in the fast-warming northern Northeast Atlantic LMEs, where increasing trends in fisheries biomass yields were related to zooplankton biomass increases. In contrast, fisheries biomass yields of LMEs in the fast-warming, more southerly reaches of the Northeast Atlantic were declining in response to decreases in zooplankton abundance. The LMEs around the margins of the Indian Ocean, where SSTs were among the world's slowest warming, revealed a consistent pattern of fisheries biomass increases during the past 25 years, driven principally by human need for food security from fisheries resources. As a precautionary approach toward more sustainable fisheries utilization, management measures to limit the total allowable catch through a cap-and-sustain approach are suggested for the developing nations recently fishing heavily on resources of the Agulhas Current, Somali Current, Arabian Sea, and Bay of Bengal LMEs.


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