Sensitivity of fishery resources to climate change in the warm-temperate Southwest Atlantic Ocean

Climate change impacts on fishery resources have been widely reported worldwide. Nevertheless, a knowledge gap remains for the warm-temperate Southwest Atlantic Ocean—a global warming hotspot that sustains important industrial and small-scale fisheries. By combining a trait-based framework and long-term landing records, we assessed species’ sensitivity to climate change and potential changes in the distribution of important fishery resources (n = 28; i.e., bony fishes, chondrichthyans, crustaceans, and mollusks) in Southern Brazil, Uruguay, and the northern shelf of Argentina. Most species showed moderate or high sensitivity, with mollusks (e.g., sedentary bivalves and snails) being the group with the highest sensitivity, followed by chondrichthyans. Bony fishes showed low and moderate sensitivities, while crustacean sensitivities were species-specific. The stock and/or conservation status overall contributed the most to higher sensitivity. Between 1989 and 2019, species with low and moderate sensitivity dominated regional landings, regardless of the jurisdiction analyzed. A considerable fraction of these landings consisted of species scoring high or very high on an indicator for potential to change their current distribution. These results suggest that although the bulk of past landings were from relatively climate-resilient species, future catches and even entire benthic fisheries may be jeopardized because (1) some exploited species showed high or very high sensitivities and (2) the increase in the relative representation of landings in species whose distribution may change. This paper provides novel results and insights relevant for fisheries management from a region where the effects of climate change have been overlooked, and which lacks a coordinated governance system for climate-resilient fisheries.

Gianelli I., Orlando L., Cardoso L. G., Carranza A., Celentano E., Correa P., de la Rosa A., Doño F., Haimovici M., Horta S. & Jaureguizar A. J., 2023. Sensitivity of fishery resources to climate change in the warm-temperate Southwest Atlantic Ocean. Regional Environmental Change 23(2): 49. doi: 10.1007/s10113-023-02049-8. Article.

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