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Keywords:

  • ocean;
  • coastal;
  • estuary;
  • disturbance;
  • ecosystem services;
  • fish;
  • invertebrates;
  • climate change;
  • acidification

ABSTRACT

  1. Commercial fishing is an important socio-economic activity in coastal regions of the UK and Ireland. Ocean–atmospheric changes caused by greenhouse gas emissions are likely to affect future fish and shellfish production, and lead to increasing challenges in ensuring long-term sustainable fisheries management.
  2. The paper reviews existing knowledge and understanding of the exposure of marine ecosystems to ocean-atmospheric changes, the consequences of these changes for marine fisheries in the UK and Ireland, and the adaptability of the UK and Irish fisheries sector.
  3. Ocean warming is resulting in shifts in the distribution of exploited species and is affecting the productivity of fish stocks and underlying marine ecosystems. In addition, some studies suggest that ocean acidification may have large potential impacts on fisheries resources, in particular shell-forming invertebrates.
  4. These changes may lead to loss of productivity, but also the opening of new fishing opportunities, depending on the interactions between climate impacts, fishing grounds and fleet types. They will also affect fishing regulations, the price of fish products and operating costs, which in turn will affect the economic performance of the UK and Irish fleets.
  5. Key knowledge gaps exist in our understanding of the implications of climate and ocean chemistry changes for marine fisheries in the UK and Ireland, particularly on the social and economic responses of the fishing sectors to climate change. However, these gaps should not delay climate change mitigation and adaptation policy actions, particularly those measures that clearly have other ‘co-benefits’. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.