What is it about?

Climate change is impacting ocean ecosystems and reducing the productivity of fisheries. Traditional management practices of fisheries are rooted in population modelling and focuses on fishing mortality of exploited populations. However, the multi-level impact of climate change has reinforced the need to include ecosystem factors, environmental variation, and associated precautions into fisheries management. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has included climate change and related themes as key priorities in managing Canadian fish stocks. In this paper, researchers assessed whether Canadian fisheries management has incorporated strategies related to climate change. They analysed DFO’s publicly available documents and found that 61% of the documents mentioning climate change contained only a single reference to climate change. This suggested a lack of its consideration in the decision-making process. The researchers offered plausible explanations for their findings along with suggestions for increased incorporation of themes related to climate change.

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Why is it important?

Climate-related risks to fisheries are on the rise, and the urgency to manage fisheries in a climate-smart manner is growing. Observations have indicated an association between climate change and changing distribution of species and ecosystems. However, Canada has not yet established a clear climate change adaptation strategy for its fisheries. While precautionary approach policies have brought in targeted funding and directed climate change research, the issue is still not central to fisheries assessments and decision making as they stand today. KEY TAKEAWAY Although climate change appears as a topic of discussion increasingly in peer-reviewed publications and fisheries management plans, most of the references indicate a lack of understanding of climate change impacts. A framework for incorporating these themes into management advice and action would increase their uptake in Canadian fisheries management.

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This page is a summary of: Leading or lagging: How well are climate change considerations being incorporated into Canadian fisheries management?, Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, August 2021, Canadian Science Publishing, DOI: 10.1139/cjfas-2020-0394.
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