Clear indications that climate change is affecting fish stocks

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THE Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) launched its latest Report Card at the World Fisheries Congress in Edinburgh last week.

The report focuses on how climate change is affecting the fish and shellfish, providing both opportunities and threats, and what the social and economic consequences could be.

Key findings included clear changes in the depth, distribution, migration and spawning behaviours of fish - many of which can be related to warming sea temperatures, and that cultivated fish and shellfish are both susceptible to climate change, although fish farming technologies offer good potential for adaptation.

Commenting on the findings, 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 change.”

Meanwhile, UK Minister for the Marine Environment, Richard Benyon, added: “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 marine environment.

“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.”