Sustainable fisheries, climate change and the North Sea ecosystem (SUNFISH) (38135)

Project Details


Global climate changes will seriously challenge the governance of fisheries in the North Sea and elsewhere. Changes in temperature, wind conditions, river runoff and currents will affect primary and secondary production, the distribution, feeding, growth and survival of commercially exploited fish at all stages of life. Without improved knowledge about the effect of climate on the basic biological processes involved in fish production, it will be increasingly difficult to separate the effects of fishing from those of environmental fluctuations and change, identify biological reference points, and to develop management strategies for sustainable fisheries.

By combining models of the effects of climate on the hydrographical and biological processes important for fish production with models of fish stock dynamics and fishing, the project provided a basis for improved predictions of the effects of climate change on the sustainable exploitation and maximum yield of North Sea fish stocks. The dynamics of cod (a top predator), herring and sandeel (two important prey for fish), seabirds and marine mammals were studied in detail. Their spawning, egg and larval drift, juvenile and adult distribution, growth and survival were investigated through experiments, statistical analyses of collected data and advanced bio-oceanographic models. The sustainability of exploitation under changing climate conditions were examined by modifying an existing stochastic multispecies fisheries model to make it account for climate effects on fish ecology.

The project provided an integrated modelling framework for developing sustainable fisheries management strategies superior to using simple extrapolations of observed historical trends to predict the likely outcome of climate change on the North Sea ecosystem.

The project was coordinated by DTU Aqua and funded by the Danish Council for Strategic Research.

Research area: Ecosystem Based Marine Management
Research area: Marine Living Resources
Effective start/end date01/01/200801/09/2012


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