Shared fish stocks on the move due to climate change could cause stock conflicts – Fishermens News

A University of British Columbia study projects that climate change will force 45% of fish stocks that cross two or more Exclusive Economic Zones to significantly move from their historic habitats and migration routes by 2100. Image via UBC .

A University of British Columbia study projects that climate change will force 45% of fish stocks that cross two or more Exclusive Economic Zones to significantly move from their historic habitats and migration routes by 2100, potentially lead to disputes over inventory ownership.

The report published on Tuesday, January 18 says that by 2030, when the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are expected to be met, 23% of these “transboundary” fish stocks will have changed their historic habitat.

The UBC modeling study also predicts that 78% of Exclusive Economic Zones, where most fishing activity takes place, will see at least one fish stock shift. By 2100, this climbs to 45% of stocks, with 81% of EEZs experiencing at least one stock change if nothing is done to stop greenhouse gas emissions.

Lead author Juliano Palacios-Abrantes, who conducted the study at UBC’s Institute of Oceans and Fisheries, said it was not just a problem of stocks leaving or arriving in new EEZs, but of stocks shared between countries completely changing their dynamics.

Palacios-Abrantes, now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the study includes a timeline suggesting these changes have been underway since the start of the 21st century, with more dramatic changes expected by 2030 and beyond.

The study tracked changes in the ranges of 9,132 transboundary fish stocks, which account for 80% of catches in global EEZs, from 2006 until 2100. These changes in stock distribution are expected to affect harvests and increase tensions over countries that can claim majority ownership of certain stocks, especially since between 2005 and 2010, fishing for transboundary species brought in a total of around US$76 billion in revenue.

The study makes a number of suggestions on how to avoid the worst possible conflict outcomes, such as entering into agreements allowing fishing fleets to fish in neighboring countries’ waters while offering a share of the catch or benefits. The authors of the study said it will also require rebalancing and renegotiating many of the catch quota agreements already in place.

Garland K. Long