FRDC-DCCEE: management implications of climate change impacts on fisheries resources of northern Australia
James Cook University (JCU)
Climate change is a major environmental threat and there is a national imperative to establish likely impacts on fisheries in Australia. Northern Australia is predicted to be affected by changes in rainfall patterns and resultant increases in river flows to the marine environment, increased intensity of cyclones, increased water temperatures, increases in ocean acidification, and altered current patterns (CSIRO 2007). These changes in the marine environment will directly impact on fisheries including modified phenology and physiology, altered ranges and distributions, composition and interactions within communities, and fisheries catch rates (Hobday et al 2008, Munday et al 2008, Halliday et al, 2008, Balston 2009). Critically, most fisheries in northern Australia are deemed to be not well prepared at all for future climate impacts (Hobday et al 2008). For fishery sectors in northern Australia to be able to respond positively and adapt to climate-induced changes on fish stocks there is a need to determine which stocks, and where, when and how they are likely to be affected. Current fisheries management in northern Australia is jurisdiction-based. There is a need for a co-operative approach to developing management policy that can deal with future climate change scenarios. Development of such policy requires consultation with all stakeholder groups. This addresses one of the NCCARP high priority research needs for commercial and recreational fishing, two of FRDC's Strategic Priority R&D Areas (Themes 3 & 4), and priorities for Qld and NT management agencies. There exists extensive northern Australia biophysical and fisheries data for regional assessment of likely climate change impacts. Data include temperature, salinity, pH, wind, rainfall, upwelling events and river flows. There is a critical need for the collation of existing data sets to determine and document the key environmental drivers for northern Australian fisheries; a key research priority for national, Qld and NT agencies.
1. Describe the projected climate-driven changes that are relevant to northern Australian marine fisheries.
2. Assess the potential impacts of climate change on key fisheries and species in northern Australia.
3. Assess current management to identify approaches that are adaptive to potential climate change scenarios