Climate change and aquaculture: considering adaptation potential

Increases in global population and seafood demand are occurring simultaneously with fisheries decline in an era of rapid climate change. Aquaculture is well positioned to help meet the world’s future seafood needs, but heavy reliance of most global aquaculture on the ambient environment and ecosystem services suggests inherent vulnerability to climate change effects. There are, however, opportunities for adaptation. Engineering and management solutions can reduce exposure to stressors or mitigate stressors through environmental control. Epigenetic adaptation may have the potential to improve stressor tolerance through parental or early life stage exposure. Stressor-resistant traits can be genetically selected for, and maintaining adequate population variability can improve resilience and overall fitness. Information at appropriate time scales is crucial for adaptive response, such as real-time data on stressor levels and/or species’ responses, early warning of deleterious events, or prediction of longer-term change. Diet quality and quantity have the potential to meet increasing energetic and nutritional demands associated with mitigating the effects of abiotic and biotic climate change stressors. Research advancements in understanding how climate change affects aquaculture will benefit most from a combination of empirical studies, modelling approaches, and observations at the farm level. Research to support aquaculture adaptation requires an increasing amount of environmental data to guide biological response studies for regional applications. Increased experimental complexity, resources, and duration will be necessary to better understand the effects of multiple stressors. Ultimately, in order for aquaculture sectors to move beyond short-term coping responses, governance initiatives incorporating the changing needs of stakeholders, users, and culture ecosystems as a whole are required to facilitate planned climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Reid G. K., Gurney-Smith H. J., Flaherty M., Garber A. F., Forster I., Brewer-Dalton K., Knowler D., Marcogliese D. J., Chopin T., Moccia R. D., Smith C. T. & Silva S. D., 2019. Climate change and aquaculture: considering adaptation potential. Aquaculture Environmental Interactactions 11: 603-624. Article.

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