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Indications of a climate effect on Mediterranean fisheries

November 27, 2013

Using the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Mediterranean capture fisheries production dataset in conjunction with global and Mediterranean sea surface temperatures, we investigated trends in fisheries landings and landings per unit of effort of commercially important marine organisms, in relation to temperature oscillations. In addition to the overall warming trend, a temperature shift was detected in the Mediterranean Sea in the late 1990s. Fisheries landings fluctuations were examined for the most abundant commercial species (59 species) and showed significant year-to-year correlations with temperature for nearly 60 % of the cases. From these, the majority (~70 %) were negatively related and showed a reduction of 44 % on average. Increasing trends were found, mainly in the landings of species with short life spans, which seem to have benefited from the increase in water temperature. Τhe effect of oceanic warming is apparent in most species or groups of species sharing ecological (e.g. small and medium pelagic, demersal fish) or taxonomic (e.g. cephalopods, crustaceans) traits. A landings-per-unit-of-effort (LPUE) proxy, using data from the seven Mediterranean European Union member states, also showed significant correlation with temperature fluctuations for six out of the eight species examined, indicating the persistence of temperature influence on landings when the fishing effect is accounted for. The speed of response of marine landings to the warming of the Mediterranean Sea possibly shows both the sensitivity and the vulnerable state of the fish stocks and indicates that climate should be examined together with fisheries as a factor shaping stock fluctuations.

Tzanatos E, Raitsos D E, Triantafyllou G, in press. Indications of a climate effect on Mediterranean fisheries, Climate Change, 2013, doi:10.1007/s10584-013-0972-4. Article.


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