Forecasting the dynamics of a coastal fishery species using a coupled climate–population model

Authors

  • Jonathan A. Hare,

    Corresponding author
    1. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Narragansett Laboratory, 28 Tarzwell Drive, Narragansett, Rhode Island 02882 USA
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  • Michael A. Alexander,

    1. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Earth System Research Laboratory, Physical Sciences Division, 325 Broadway, Boulder, Colorado 80305 USA
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  • Michael J. Fogarty,

    1. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Woods Hole Laboratory, 166 Water Street, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543 USA
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  • Erik H. Williams,

    1. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, 101 Pivers Island Road, Beaufort, North Carolina 28516 USA
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  • James D. Scott

    1. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Earth System Research Laboratory, Physical Sciences Division, 325 Broadway, Boulder, Colorado 80305 USA
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  • Corresponding Editor: K. B. Gido.

Abstract

Marine fisheries management strives to maintain sustainable populations while allowing exploitation. However, well-intentioned management plans may not meet this balance as most do not include the effect of climate change. Ocean temperatures are expected to increase through the 21st century, which will have far-reaching and complex impacts on marine fisheries. To begin to quantify these impacts for one coastal fishery along the east coast of the United States, we develop a coupled climate–population model for Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus). The model is based on a mechanistic hypothesis: recruitment is determined by temperature-driven, overwinter mortality of juveniles in their estuarine habitats. Temperature forecasts were obtained from 14 general circulation models simulating three CO2 emission scenarios. An ensemble-based approach was used in which a multimodel average was calculated for a given CO2 emission scenario to forecast the response of the population. The coupled model indicates that both exploitation and climate change significantly affect abundance and distribution of Atlantic croaker. At current levels of fishing, the average (2010–2100) spawning biomass of the population is forecast to increase by 60–100%. Similarly, the center of the population is forecast to shift 50–100 km northward. A yield analysis, which is used to calculate benchmarks for fishery management, indicates that the maximum sustainable yield will increase by 30–100%. Our results demonstrate that climate effects on fisheries must be identified, understood, and incorporated into the scientific advice provided to managers if sustainable exploitation is to be achieved in a changing climate.

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