Climate change implications for Torres Strait fisheries: assessing vulnerability to inform adaptation

Climate change impacts on marine fisheries are being observed in tropical regions, including northern Australia and the Pacific. In the Torres Strait, Islanders have a long association with their sea country that holds significant cultural, social and economic importance. Future impacts of climate change on marine fisheries stocks and supporting habitats will affect Torres Strait Islander communities. We assessed the relative vulnerability of 15 key fishery species in Torres Strait using a semi-quantitative framework modified from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that integrated both ecological and social indicators of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity. The assessment identified species with high, medium and low vulnerability to projected climate change in 2030. The species assessed as having the highest vulnerability were: Holothuria whitmaei (black teatfish), Pinctada margaritifera (black-lipped pearl oyster), Dugong dugon (dugong), and Trochus niloticus (trochus). A separate prioritisation process that considered the cultural and economic value of species identified three high priority species for future management focus: D. dugon, marine turtles (principally Chelonia mydas) and Panulirus ornatus (tropical rock lobster). These results can inform fishers and managers to prepare for the effects of climate change and minimise impacts. The relatively healthy condition of most fisheries in the Torres Strait is likely to assist successful adaptation.

Johnson J. E. & Welch D. J., 2016. Climate change implications for Torres Strait fisheries: assessing vulnerability to inform adaptation. Climatic Change 135(3):611-624. Article (subscription required).


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