Monday, August 7, 2017

08/08/2017: Ensuring sustainable fish production in Europe under climate change

by Maurine Toussaint, Courtney Hough, Elisabeth Ytteborg, ClimeFish

The ClimeFish project will produce data that will prepare fisheries and aquaculture sectors in Europe for near future climate scenarios, using adaptation plans, risk assessments and visualisation of opportunities presented in a decision support tool

ClimeFish is a four-year European project funded by the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme that aims to create a decision support framework (DSF) to ensure sustainable fish production in Europe under climate change.

The project focuses on three different fish supply sectors: marine aquaculture, marine fisheries and lakes and ponds, which are divided into 16 case studies that involve more than 25 species across the continent. The main objective of the ClimeFish project is to ensure that future growth in seafood production occurs in areas and for species with a potential for sustainable growth.

Image credit: NOFIMA

A European project for a global matter
Fish and shellfish from both wild and farmed sectors represent a valuable source of proteins, minerals and omega 3 fatty acids. So far, most of the consumed food has come from wild catch.

However, according to FAO, aquacultured species are expected to become our main nutritional source in the future. Declining wild fish stocks and increasing human population put increased pressure to this development, urging growth and higher production yields.

From the other side, the undeniable climate change threatens the sustainable development of both wild and farmed species at the global level through unfavourable growth conditions. Forecasting the effects and providing structured responses to ensure future growth, sustainability and management, are core activities in ClimeFish.

ClimeFish forecasting is based on specific climate scenarios from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) called the RCP’s (Representative Concentration Pathways). The RCPs are possible temperature scenarios depending on how rapidly global greenhouse gas emissions come down in coming years.

ClimeFish focus on the so-called RCP4.5 and 8.5 that represent the most likely and the worst-case scenario, three and four degrees global temperature increase. The most optimistic scenario, RCP 2.6, was originally the third scenario to be included in the project, but this has already been surpassed.

The effects of these scenarios upon fish and shellfish in all the 16 cases will be simulated using different models developed in the project. ClimeFish will then use the simulated results to make tentative projections of fish production and distribution based on the relationship between water temperature and population growth.

These production scenarios will be further used for socio-economic analysis by all relevant stakeholders, who will also identify potential risks and opportunities for the sector. ClimeFish is currently in the beginning of the second project year and all of the cases have started modelling the growth of the relevant species.

The project objectives
When it comes to aquaculture and fisheries, adaptations to climate change are not just about the effects of storms or temperature increase. It also requires concrete measures and adaptation strategies from every European country, political decisions, management plans and engagement from the industrial stakeholders.

ClimeFish is getting ready to co-create a Decision Support Framework (DSF) that will help to ensure sustainable fish production in Europe by taking the effects of forecast climate changes into full consideration.

Professor Michaela Aschan, coordinator of the ClimeFish project explains, “It’s an interface where stakeholders may do planning for the future - looking at different options, different scenarios of temperature changes and see how it will influence your production in your area no matter if it’s fresh water, aquaculture or fisheries. We consider the details of each production system.”

The recommendations and guidelines on drawing up climate-enabled management plans using the ClimeFish Decision Support Framework will be formulated as a low-level voluntary European standard and will be available through the European Committee for Standardisation after the project ends to ensure the project results are used.

Scientists and stakeholders are working closely together to ensure that the knowledge generated from ClimeFish is scientifically acceptable, has strategic and policy relevance and include social robustness.

In collaboration with its international network of stakeholders, “the ClimeFish stakeholder hub”, ClimeFish plans to develop early-warning methodologies (such as a traffic light system) for the different sectors, identify strategies that mitigate the risks as well as actions plans that take benefit from any opportunities resulting from climate change.

Read the full article, HERE.

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