Climate change adaptation

Climate change is a present and growing threat, creating significant shifts in the range, distribution, and productivity of key commercial species.

The North East Atlantic hosts some of Europe’s flagship sustainable fisheries, with increasing numbers of stocks being fished at Maximum Sustainable Yield. However, this region is politically and biologically complex – and facing further challenges as key commercial fish stocks start to shift in range and distribution under a warming climate. Disputes over the allocation of shifting resources have already been seen in the region – as in the well-publicised ‘Mackerel wars’ – and more conflict, including damaging unilateral quota-setting, may be seen in future. It’s important that flexible, durable quota management systems are put in place to secure long-term sustainability, and avoid over-fishing regardless of biological fluctuations.

Our approach

We have been working in the United Kingdom for five years, advocating for quota systems that support long-term social and environmental sustainability. Broadening our view, and in the light of significant political shifts in the region (the UK’s planned exit of the EU), we have started a new programme of work considering the need for a more resilient approach to management across the North-East Atlantic region.

We are convening world-leading experts on climate change and fisheries to develop a clearer picture of the threats posed by shifting stocks, to management and to communities, and the opportunities to adapt. Crucially, we have found that, whilst the risks posed by a changing climate are wide-ranging and complex, we already have knowledge and tools at our fingertips to start planning and adapting.

We will continue to build discussion and debate around this topic with scientists, managers, governance institutions and the fishing industry, to highlight the need for a more adaptable, resilient future for Europe’s most sustainable fisheries. It’s vital that we ringfence and reinforce the progress made.

Our goals

// Publish research highlighting the needs of fisheries under the climate change, and the tools and approaches that can be used to adapt.

// Broaden the conversation across Europe: pulling in key policy officials, science and industry to co-create a joint vision for climate-proof fishery management.

// Advocate for flexible, durable quota-based systems and increased ease of transfer of quota to allow catches to align with quotas even as stocks relocate.

Fishing boat