Funding Programme: Danish Council for Strategic Research Programme Commission on Food and Health
Global climate change will seriously challenge the governance of fisheries in the North Sea, Baltic Sea and elsewhere. Changes in temperature, wind conditions, river runoff and currents will affect primary and secondary production and the distribution, feeding, growth and survival of commercially exploited fish at all stages of life. Without improved knowledge about the effect of climate on the basic biological processes involved in fish production it will be increasingly difficult to separate the effects of fishing from those of environmental fluctuations and change, to identify biological reference points, and to develop management strategies for sustainable fisheries. By combining models of the effects of climate on the hydrographical and biological processes important for fish production with models of fish stock dynamics and fishing, the project will provide a basis for improved predictions of the effects of climate change on the sustainable exploitation and maximum yield of North Sea and Baltic Sea fish stocks. The dynamics of cod, a top predator, and sandeel, an important prey for fish, seabirds and marine mammals, will be studied in detail. Their spawning, egg and larval drift, juvenile and adult distribution, growth and survival will be investigated through experiments, statistical analyses of collected data and advanced bio-oceanographic models. The sustainability of exploitation under changing climate conditions will be examined by modifying an existing stochastic multispecies fisheries model to make it account for climate effects on fish ecology as well as mixed catches of different fishing fleets. The project will thus provide an integrated modelling framework for developing sustainable fisheries management strategies superior to using simple extrapolations of observed historical trends to predict the likely outcome of climate change on the North Sea and Baltic Sea ecosystems.