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Keywords:

  • Arctic Ocean;
  • Barents Sea;
  • Bering Sea;
  • biogeography;
  • climate change;
  • fish;
  • fisheries;
  • migration

Abstract

An assessment of the potential for 17 fish or shellfish stocks or stock groups to move from the sub-Arctic areas into the Arctic Ocean was conducted. A panel of 34 experts was convened to assess the impact of climate change on the potential movement of the 17 stocks or stock groups. The panel considered the exposure of species to climate change, the sensitivity of species to these changes and the adaptive capacity of each stock or stock group. Based on expert opinions, the potential for expansion or movement into the Arctic was qualitatively ranked (low potential, potential, high potential). It is projected that the Arctic Ocean will become ice-free during the summer season, and when this happens new areas will open up for plankton production, which may lead to new feeding areas for fish stocks. Five stocks had a low potential to move to, or expand in, the high Arctic. Six species are considered as potential candidate species to move to, or expand in, the high Arctic. Six stocks had a high potential of establishing viable resident populations in the region. These six stocks exhibit life history characteristics that allow them to survive challenging environmental conditions that will continue to prevail in the north. This study suggests that several life history factors should be considered when assessing the potentiality of a species moving in response to changing climate conditions.