Canada and Transboundary Fisheries Management in Changing Oceans: Taking Stock, Future Scenarios

An Ecology & Society Special Feature featuring four papers from OceanCanada members, titled: Canada and Transboundary Fisheries Management in Changing Oceans: Taking Stock, Future Scenarios.

Illicit trade in marine fish catch and its effects on ecosystems and people worldwide

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is widespread; it is therefore likely that illicit trade in marine fish catch is also common worldwide. We combine ecological-economic databases to estimate the magnitude of illicit trade in marine fish catch and its impacts on people. Globally, between 8 and 14 million metric tons of unreported catches are potentially traded illicitly yearly, suggesting gross revenues of US$9 to US$17 billion associated with these catches. Estimated loss in annual economic impact due to the diversion of fish from the legitimate trade system is US$26 to US$50 billion, while losses to countries’ tax revenues are between US$2 and US$4 billion. Country-by-country estimates of these losses are provided in the Supplementary Materials. We find substantial likely economic effects of illicit trade in marine fish catch, suggesting that bold policies and actions by both public and private actors are needed to curb this illicit trade.

Projecting global mariculture diversity under climate change

Previous studies have focused on changes in the geographical distribution of terrestrial biomes and species targeted by marine capture fisheries due to climate change impacts. Given mariculture’s substantial contribution to global seafood production and its growing significance in recent decades, it is essential to evaluate the effects of climate change on mariculture and their socio‐economic consequences. Here, we projected climate change impacts on the marine aquaculture diversity for 85 of the currently most commonly farmed fish and invertebrate species in the world’s coastal and/or open ocean areas. Results of ensemble projections from three Earth system models and three species distribution models show that climate change may lead to a substantial redistribution of mariculture species richness potential, with an average of 10%–40% decline in the number of species being potentially suitable to be farmed in tropical to subtropical regions. In contrast, mariculture species richness potential is projected to increase by about 40% at higher latitudes under the ‘no mitigation policy’ scenario (RCP 8.5) by the mid‐21st century. In Exclusive Economic Zones where mariculture is currently undertaken, we projected an average future decline of 1.3% and 5% in mariculture species richness potential under RCP 2.6 (‘strong mitigation’) and RCP 8.5 scenarios, respectively, by the 2050s relative to the 2000s. Our findings highlight the opportunities and challenges for climate adaptation in the mariculture sector through the redistribution of farmed species and expansion of mariculture locations. Our results can help inform adaptation planning and governance mechanisms to minimize local environmental impacts and potential conflicts with other marine and coastal sectors in the future.

Ecosystem-based management can contribute to cooperation in transboundary fisheries: The case of pacific sardine

Transboundary fish stocks complicate sustainable fishing strategies, particularly when stakeholders have diverse objectives and regulatory and governance frameworks. Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax) in the California Current is shared by up to three fishing nations— Canada, the United States, and Mexico—and climate-driven abundance and distribution dynamics can complicate cooperative fisheries, leading to overfishing. This study builds on previous analyses by integrating ecosystem linkages into a game theory model of transboundary sardine fisheries under various climate scenarios.

Rapidly changing Arctic fisheries potential requires comprehensive management

The migration of fish due to unmitigated climate change could net fisheries in the Arctic 37 times more fish than current annual catch amounts by the end of the century, a new study from the University of British Columbia has found. But, the researchers warn, any future commercial fisheries must ensure species and ecosystem sustainability and consider the food security implications for local communities.

Eight urgent, fundamental and simultaneous steps needed to restore ocean health, and the consequences for humanity and the planet of inaction or delay

The ocean crisis is urgent and central to human wellbeing and life on Earth; past and current activities are damaging the planet’s main life support system for future generations. We are witnessing an increase in ocean heat, disturbance, acidification, bio‐invasions and nutrients, and reducing oxygen levels. Several of these act like ratchets: once detrimental or negative changes have occurred, they may lock in place and may not be reversible, especially at gross ecological and ocean process scales.

Impacts of the changing ocean-sea ice system on the key forage fish Arctic cod (Boreogadus Saida) and subsistence fisheries in the Western Canadian Arctic: evaluating linked climate, ecosystem and economic (CEE) models.

This study synthesizes results from observations, laboratory experiments and models to showcase how the integration of scientific methods and indigenous knowledge can improve our understanding of (a) past and projected changes in environmental conditions and marine species; (b) their effects on social and ecological systems in the respective communities; and (c) support management and planning tools for climate change adaptation and mitigation. The study links climate-ecosystem-economic (CEE) models and discusses uncertainties within those tools. The example focuses on the key forage species in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (Western Canadian Arctic), i.e., Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida). Arctic cod can be trophically linked to sea-ice algae and pelagic primary producers and are key vectors for energy transfers from plankton to higher trophic levels (e.g., ringed seals, beluga), which are harvested by Inuit peoples. Fundamental changes in ice and ocean conditions in the region affect the marine ecosystem and fish habitat. Model simulations suggest increasing trends in oceanic phytoplankton and sea-ice algae with high interannual variability. The latter might be linked to interannual variations in Arctic cod abundance and mask trends in observations. CEE simulations incorporating physiological temperature limits data for the distribution of Arctic cod, result in an estimated 17% decrease in Arctic cod populations by the end of the century (high emission scenario), but suggest increases in abundance for other Arctic and sub-Arctic species. The Arctic cod decrease is largely caused by increased temperatures and constraints in northward migration, and could directly impact key subsistence species. Responses to acidification are still highly uncertain, but sensitivity simulations suggests an additional 1% decrease in Arctic cod populations due to pH impacts on growth and survival. Uncertainties remain with respect to detailed future changes, but general results are likely correct and in line with results from other approaches. To reduce uncertainties, higher resolution models with improved parameterizations and better understanding of the species’ physiological limits are required. Arctic communities should be directly involved, receive tools and training to conduct local, unified research and food chain monitoring while decisions regarding commercial fisheries will need to be precautionary and adaptive in light of the existing uncertainties.

Disaster-risk, water security challenges and strategies in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Small island developing states (SIDS) are typically characterized by being environmentally and socio-economically vulnerable to disasters and climate change. Additionally, they often have limited resources for freshwater provisioning services. This article presents an assessment of disaster risk and water security-related challenges in SIDS focusing on three major dimensions: (a) how disaster risks are perceived and addressed in the SIDS context using a case study method, (b) analyzing the current status of water security in these regions using an indicator-based approach and (c) assessing gaps and needs in institutions and policies that can facilitate sustainable development goals (SDGs) and targets, adaptation and resilience building in SIDS. In this regard, information on all SIDS is collected to be able to distinguish trends in and between SIDS based on amongst others geographical location and characteristics. This synthesis noted two key observations: first, that in SIDS, the number of disasters is increasing at a higher rate than the global average, and that the frequency and intensity of the disasters will likely increase because of climate change. These combined factors will impact SIDS on the societal level and on environmental levels, reducing their adaptive capacity, resources, and resilience. Second, most SIDS are already water-scarce with low groundwater volumes. Because of increasing demand (e.g., population growth and tourism) and decreasing supply (e.g., pollution and changes in precipitation patterns) freshwater resources are becoming increasingly limited, often suffering from the spillover effects of competing and conflicting uses. Threatened ecosystems and limited economic resources further influence the adaptive capacities of communities in SIDS. In this light, key solutions to address disaster-risk and water security-related challenges can be found by sharing best practices and lessons learned—from examples of good governance, integrated policies, improved community-resilience, and capacity-building. Added to their fragile situation, SIDS struggle to find enough funding to put their development plans, programs, and policies into action

Climate change impact on Canada’s Pacific marine ecosystem: the current state of knowledge.

Global warming is already affecting the oceans through changes in water temperature, acidification, oxygen content and sea level rise, amongst many others. These changes are having multiple effects on marine species worldwide, with subsequent impacts on marine fisheries, peoples’ livelihoods and food security.