Clear indications that climate change is affecting fish stocks
08 May 2012
The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) is
launching its latest Report Card today at the World Fisheries
Congress in Edinburgh. It focuses on how climate change is
affecting the fish and shellfish we find in our seas, providing
both opportunities and threats, and what the social and economic
consequences could be.
Key findings in the 2012 MCCIP Report Card include:
- There are clear changes in the depth, distribution, migration
and spawning behaviours of fish - many of which can be related to
warming sea temperatures.
- Cultivated fish and shellfish are both susceptible to climate
change, although fish farming technologies offer good potential for
- Controlled or closed fishing areas (a type of protected area)
that can be adapted in response to climate change have the
potential to help protect commercial and vulnerable fish
- Recreational sea fishing is an important socio-economic
activity that could be positively affected by climate change, due
to the increasing abundance of species that are of interest to
- Shifting distributions of fish have led to a series of
international disagreements and will continue to have implications
for fisheries management across international boundaries.
The Scottish Government's Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs
and Environment, Richard Lochhead, said:
"Climate change is affecting us all and understanding the
impact on the marine environment is hugely important. Fisheries and
aquaculture are vital to our economy - worth over 1 billion - and
clear science is critical to secure the future of our valuable food
industries. That is why I welcome the collaborative work of the
MCCIP - the Report Card provides significant and robust scientific
data which will help inform future policies to tackle climate
UK Minister for the Marine Environment, Richard Benyon,
"I would like to thank the scientists who have contributed
towards this valuable report and believe we have come a long way in
a short time in understanding the impacts of climate change on the
"The truth is that climate change is having a big
impact on distribution of fish stocks and this is going to present
some significant challenges for policy-makers, fisheries managers
and for fishing industry itself.
"The Government will develop a National Adaptation Plan in
response to the Climate Change Risk Assessment in which issues
affecting the marine environment will be addressed."
Notes for news editors
MCCIP commissioned three groups of scientists to produce a new
set of scientific review papers to investigate these issues. The
key finding are also summarised in a highly accessible summary
Report Card. The Card includes a "regional seas climate change
impacts map", which shows that most areas around the UK and Ireland
are likely to be affected.
Other findings in the MCCIP Report Card include:
- Some species are key to the integrity of marine food chains. If
these are particularly affected by climate change then extensive
restructuring of food chains will follow. Declines in the abundance
of sandeels in the North Sea may be a particular case in
- Increasing demand for fish versus decreasing availability may
be exacerbated by climate change.
- For cod, an important economic species in the UK, short-term
stock recovery will depend primarily on reducing fishing mortality.
However in the longer term, climate change might be expected to
have an increasingly important effect on stocks.
The 2012 MCCIP Report Card on fish, fisheries and aquaculture is
being launched today, 8th May, at the World
Fisheries Congress in Edinburgh. The chair of the MCCIP Report Card
working group, Dr. Matt Frost (MBA), the Minister for the Marine
Environment, Richard Benyon, and Richard Lochhead, the Cabinet
Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment in the Scottish
Government, will all address the launch.
The 12-page summary Report Card can be accessed at www.mccip.org.uk/ffa.
Detailed peer-reviewed journal papers on all the topics covered
in the summary Report Card can be accessed through "Aquatic
Conservation - Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems" (
The MCCIP Secretariat is hosted at Cefas, Lowestoft, and is
contactable on 01502 524508 and email@example.com.
The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) was
launched in March 2005 and is a partnership between scientists,
government, its agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and
industry. The principal aim is to provide a co-ordinating framework
for the UK, so as to be able to transfer high quality evidence on
marine climate change impacts, and guidance on adaptation and
related advice, to policy advisors and decision-makers.
MCCIP partner organisations are:
- Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Northern Ireland
- Centre for the Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture
- Countryside Council for Wales
- Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
- Department of the Environment, Northern Ireland
- Environment Agency
- International Union for Conservation of Nature
- Isle of Man Government
- Joint Nature Conservation Committee
- Marine Scotland Science
- Marine Biological Association - Marine Environmental Change
- Marine Institute, Ireland
- Marine Management Organisation
- Natural England
- Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
- Scottish Government
- Scottish Natural Heritage
- Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science
- States of Guernsey
- States of Jersey
- UK Met Office
- Welsh Assembly Government
Press enquiries: Stephen Dye (MCCIP Secretariat)