Assessing the effect of warming water on Mediterranean fisheries

Climate change is a global issue, but do increasing temperatures impact all areas equally?

Data resources used via GBIF : 25,000 species occurrences
Fishing boat off the coast of Mojácar, Spain

Fishing boat off the coast of Mojácar, Spain. Photo by Barry Tetchner licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Various recent studies have shown a correlation between sea-surface temperature and fish distributions and species composition globally. This in turn affects fisheries, as other studies have shown species shifting their ranges towards the poles. In this study, researchers investigated 40 years of fishing in the Mediterranean to determine whether changes in landings can be explained by seawater temperature. Dividing species into thermal affinity groups based on median latitude of GBIF-mediated occurrences, and aggregating the landing data in Mediterranean sub-areas, the researchers find that catches follow a general temporal trend but depend on an interaction between temperature and sub-area. They confirm that cold affinity species are negatively affected by water warming, whereas both temperate and warm affinity groups show a positive relationship with temperature. The study shows that climate change can have a major impact on global fisheries, although management strategies may prove more meaningful at a regional scale.

Pranovi F, Anelli Monti M, Brigolin D and Zucchetta M (2016) The Influence of the Spatial Scale on the Fishery Landings-SST Relationship. Frontiers in Marine Science. Frontiers Media SA 3. Available at doi:10.3389/fmars.2016.00143.