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Simulating Climate Change Effects on Fish and Fisheries Management


Output examples from the ecosystem model showing how the biomass of each species changes over time in response to shifts of plankton biomass (high, low then high) and changes in fishing mortality (F).

Fishery yields are limited by the productivity of food sources, such as plankton, which in turn are affected by climatic and ocean conditions. A greater understanding of how environmental changes have an impact on fish populations would be gained by knowing how those disturbances enter the ecosystem. This project aimed to generate new information on how changes in plankton populations that result from different climate change scenarios affect fish populations, and incorporate this information into ecosystem based fisheries management approaches.

Results: Using an ecosystem model known as OSMOSE (Object-oriented Simulator of Marine Ecosystem Exploitation), researchers studied the impacts of three different plankton abundance scenarios that represent potential climate change impacts (baseline, 50 per cent, and 75 per cent abundance). They also studied the impacts of 30 different fisheries scenarios on the abundance of various aquatic species (e.g., pandalid shrimp, Pacific herring, Pacific cod, and harbour seals). The results showed how the populations of each species were affected by the changes in plankton biomass and the different fishing scenarios.

Use of this model allows researchers to assess the population status of aquatic species and to anticipate the changes in abundance of aquatic species using an ecosystem-based approach. This also allows researchers to evaluate and identify favourable fisheries scenarios to improve fishery yields and to inform adaptive ecosystem-based fisheries management strategies.

Program Name

Aquatic Climate Change Adaptation Services Program (ACCASP)


Pacific: Strait of Georgia

Principal Investigator(s)

Caihong Fu
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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