Adaptation strategies for fisheries will vary considerably across the globe—from changing locations to shifting the timing and species of catch—depending on the local impacts of climate change.

Grafton, 2009; Cochrane et al., 2009

Georgina Smith

Extra facts

  • Increasing the capacity for quick responses to climate-related shocks to fisheries will be especially important (Grafton 2009).
  • There is huge potential for the expansion of aquaculture (raising of fish in captivity in marine or freshwater systems) even in the face of climate change (Cochrane et al. 2009).
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Methods, caveats and issues

  • Climate change adaptation in capture fisheries needs to be carefully integrated into wider approaches to dealing with other threats to the fishing system, particularly overfishing. For example, conservation methods such as increasing the mesh size of fishing nets or designating “no take” areas, will play a major role in adaptation as well as reducing overfishing (Grafton 2009).
  • Strategies to make the fishing system more sustainable and economically rewarding will be fundamental to adaptation in small-scale fisheries. Specific adaptation interventions should build on fishers’ current strategies for dealing with risk, shocks and change to avoid maladaptation. They should recognize places where climate change will benefit local fisheries as well as those places where climate change will have a negative impact (Badjeck et al 2010).
  • The ability of marine fish species to adapt to climate change—which may involve elevated temperatures, changing salinities, patterns of water column stratification, ocean acidification and the magnitude and direction of currents—is not known. Many species already continually cope with large, natural (seasonal and spatial) fluctuations in all these variables (Cochrane et al 2009).
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  • Cochrane K, De Young C, Soto D, Bahri T, eds. 2009. Climate change implications for fisheries and aquaculture: overview of current scientific knowledge. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper no. 530. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (Available from
  • Grafton RQ. 2009. Adaptation to climate change in marine capture fisheries. Environmental Economics Research Hub Research Report No. 37. Canberra: Australian National University. (Available from pdf/EERH_RR37.pdf)
  • Badjeck MC, Allison EH, Halls AS, Dulvy NK. 2010. Impacts of climate variability and change on fishery-based livelihoods. Marine Policy 34:375–83.
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