A new European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) study has concluded that EU commercial fisheries can be resilient to climate shocks if they are managed according to sound scientific advice and in line with the principles of maximum sustainable yield (MSY). Contracted by the European Commission, the study also looked into ways to reduce greenhouse emissions from the fishing sector.
The study found that in order to anticipate and mitigate the effects of climate shocks, it is necessary to move towards more flexible and adaptive fisheries management, which could incorporate more precautionary approaches. Some examples include fishing at the lower bounds of FMSY to reduce fishing mortality and absorb climate-induced shocks when relevant. Making use of flexible quota allocations systems, such as improving swap mechanisms to alleviate choke risks is also suggested.
In addition, the study points out the importance of taking into account ecosystem based assessments, in order to better anticipate the changing conditions of stocks. Such assessments also provide a better understanding of the linkages with climate change, so management measures can be adapted accordingly. This includes regularly updating biological reference points to have an accurate picture of the state of fish stocks.
In terms of reducing the carbon footprint of the sector, the study looked into the possible effects of stock development on fuel consumption, while highlighting the difficulty of defining clear trends due to the diverse and complex nature of fisheries. The study found that many technologies to reduce energy use already exist, but their uptake faces certain barriers that need to be addressed.
The study is part of the ongoing reflections on climate change, particularly in the context of the upcoming Commission report on the functioning on the CFP.
Long-term climactic changes will affect marine ecosystems and bring uncertainties. Climate change will also increase the probability of short-term climate shocks, such as ocean heatwaves or toxic algal blooms, which can affect fish stocks in the short term.
The study used various case studies to assess the potential impacts of climate change on EU commercial fish stocks in the CFP framework and estimated their resilience levels by 2030. It also analysed measures to reduce GHG emissions from the fishing sector, either by technological means or by using alternative fishing strategies.
Report: Climate change and the common fisheries policy
- Publication date
- 7 October 2022
- Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries