CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACT ASSESSMENT AND LOCAL VULNERABILITY
Michele Romanelli (ISPRA) Otello Giovanardi (ISPRA)
WORKSHOP Life Project ACT - Adapting to Climate change in Time No LIFE08 ENV/IT/000436
Rome, July 19th-20th -21st 2010
INDEX 1) Introduction ............................................................................................................. 3 2) Vulnerability of the fishing and fish farming sector to climate change in the Northern Mediterranean ............................................................................................ 4 2.1. â€“ Changing climatic variables that will have the most impact on the sector ............................ 4 2.2 Sensitivity of marine species subject to fishing or farming to changes in the abovementioned climatic parameters .......................................................................................................................... 5 2.3 Impact of forecast climatic change on fishing and fish farming of marine species ................... 6 2.4 Adaptive capacity of fishing and fish farming sectors ............................................................... 8 2.5 Vulnerability assessment for fishing and fish farming to climate change impact ..................... 9
3 - Risks ..................................................................................................................... 11 Bibliography............................................................................................................... 11
Climate change impact on fishing and fisheries on the Northern Mediterranean coasts
1) Introduction Various forms of data obtained during the past 20 years show how current changes have already had a perceptible impact on marine food webs in the Mediterranean, following a trend that will become more and more defined in the future, with a tangible impact on both the fishing and fish farming industry. Because of the complexity of relationships between single species and the environmental physical and chemical parameters, as well as between the multitude of species included in the marine flora and fauna in the various Mediterranean areas, it is not possible to provide a precise definition for neither the entity of the changes that will take place in this economic sector, nor for the relative weight of each environmental parameter that will be most subject to change. However, it is possible to obtain qualitative or semi-quantitative forecasts. Further indications are provided, on the other hand, by policy/directive documents of the EU, which trace some guidelines for the development of fishing and fish farming in Member States. The outlook made up of the different forecasts should, therefore, allow one to obtain an indication of the options available to the sector to face future short and medium term challenges. Forecast climate change should lead to a progressive decrease of primary production (which is almost exclusively due to phytoplankton, which are mono-cellular plants that can be found in the upper layers of the water column), and therefore to the food web that firstly involves the Copepods, or other “herbivore” animals, and then, directly or indirectly, the predators of the latter, which include the species that are traditionally fished. Therefore, the dimensions of these populations should decrease and be less aggregated (which means that capturing them at sea should be more difficult and less profitable). The evolution of marine fishing in the short to long term will also be influenced by the current serious state of target resources, seeing as the average level of annual captures has been too high compared to the dimension of the populations for about 20-30 years (Sibm, 1994; Stergiou, 1997), which leads to a decline of the populations and meaning that the latter are less equipped to face the negative impact of climate change (EEA, 2002; EC Reg. 2371/2002). This is why EU policy on the fishing industry is aiming a consistent reduction of fleets (EC Commission, 2009). The increase of atmospheric temperatures, with summer “heat waves” characterised by temperatures that are even 5-6° above local seasonal averages (Estrela e Valiente, 2007), will also entail increases in the surface temperature of the sea, which will have a serious impact on aquaculture. This is due to the fact that the farmed animals are homoeothermic, and therefore their metabolism and oxygen consumption increases with the temperature, whereas the level of oxygen in the water decreases. This means that it is more difficult to provide appropriate oxygen levels to the dense groups of heads in the system. Furthermore, the various species have different optimal thermal ranges from a metabolic point of view, meaning that beyond certain temperature values, their growth slows down and their survival rate may contract. Even for aquaculture, one must take some options adopted by the EU in matters of aquatic resources into account; in particular, the undertaking of the World summit of Johannesburg of 2002 to reduce its high level of importation of fish products from developing countries in order to avoid contributing to the mismanagement of local marine resources. This option will therefore reduce economic competition of aquaculture with lower cost non EU products and should facilitate the economic adaptation of this sub-sector to more difficult management conditions.
2) Vulnerability of the fishing and fish farming sectors to climate change in the Northern Mediterranean 2.1. – Changing climatic variables that will have the most impact on the sector Study method The identification of climatic variables that will have the most influence on marine fishing and aquaculture is based on general hydrological knowledge, on the structure of marine food webs, on the geographic distribution (linked to certain prevailing climatic conditions) of some species subject to fishing or fish farming, as well as on some physiological aspects. Some food web models are based on an enormous mass of data regarding the biology of certain marine species, and from which one can assess how variations in the abundance of one or more species can influence the consistency of other populations (Christensen and Walters, 2004), through predator or competitive relationships. These models, however, are based on data regarding the past and therefore they do not necessarily provide valid forecasts in the presence of chemical and physical parameters that have undergone significant change – both in terms of average values as well as in terms of variations - in the surrounding marine environment. Indicators The main environmental parameters that will influence marine fishing activities will be the pluviometric and anemometric regimes of the coastal areas, whereas an increase in minimum and maximum temperatures of the water will have a wider influence in terms of space. The latter physical parameter will have a large influence on aquaculture, because of the abovementioned effects on the metabolism of homoeothermic animals such as those commonly subject to farming. Over quite a wide period of time (30-60 years) pH levels could strongly decrease in sea water (up to 0.3-0.5 units; Estrela and Valiente, 2007, with consequent difficulties in calcification processes of mussels and other organisms with calcareous parts), because of the higher concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and the consequent higher rate of formation of carbonic acid in the seawater. However, because gasses are less soluble, including carbon dioxide, in warm and salty waters, the acidification process should be less relevant in the Mediterranean. Qualitative description In coastal marine water, consistent amounts of nitrates and phosphates deriving from fertilizers used in aquaculture or detergents and civil waste water arrive from waterways feeding into the sea, and these mineral salts stimulate the growth of phytoplankton populations, so much so as to cause highly unusual algae blooms at times (so-called “red tides” due to dinoflagellates). However, legislative provisions were adopted in Italy and other countries of the EU about thirty years ago to reduce the charge of nutrients in freshwater waterways and therefore also along the coasts. These provisions reduced the frequency of such phenomena of “red tides”, but have also contributed to the decrease to primary production, and therefore of the consistency of some important fishing resources in certain areas (Darnaude et al., 2004; Santojanni et al., 2006a e 2006b; Coll et al., 2009a e 2009b; Romanelli et al., 2009). A rise of temperature in the Mediterranean waters (forecast at about 0.02°C/year for the annual averages of the superficial layers of the entire basin, but in some coastal areas the annual increase could be approximately double; Leroy et al., 2007) will determine a greater stratification of the water column, with a consequent reduction of vertical mixing phenomena, which will pose an obstacle to the oxygenation of the lower layers of water (with possible events of hypoxia or anoxia when the oxygen falls below 2ml/litre) and the migration of useful nutrients for phytoplankton and deriving from microbic decomposition to the surface, to the detriment of marine organisms that lie on the floor at the end of their lifecycle. 4
Therefore the lesser movement of the waters (assisted also by the reduction of wind systems, which shall be less frequent, of minor duration, and of very variable intensity on average) will tend to reduce the primary and secondary production of marine water. This tendency will be more pronounced in proportion in areas that are closer to the coast compared to those offshore. The increase of superficial temperature of seawater on the coast will also have a serious impact on farming practices, because each increase of 10°C in the temperature, the oxygen consumption of marine animals doubles on average, whereas the solubility of oxygen decreases by 10%-15% (Ingle, 1992). Furthermore, farming will tend to focus on commercial species that are strongly thermophilic and the pathological events for animals will become more frequent and severe due to the metabolic stress induced by periods of time in which the temperature is too high. 2.2 Sensitivity of marine species subject to fishing or farming to changes in the abovementioned climatic parameters Study methods The relevance of pluviometric, anemometric, and thermal regimes on marine food webs and on the abundance of certain fishing resources can be obtained from studies conducted on various water species, both along the coast of the Northern Mediterranean as well as in other geographical areas. In general terms, these studies are based on statistical correlations between data concerning the three abovementioned climatic variables (pluviometric data or river capacity, seawater temperature, direction and average speed of winds over a given period of time) and data that specifies the levels of abundance of one or more marine species (e.g. captures during fishing campaigns, amounts unloaded in ports in a certain area, acoustic prospection, sampling with nets or similar). Sometimes the existence of a relationship between environmental parameters and abundance of wild marine species is inferred on the basis of similarities in the spatial and temporal evolution of data, albeit in the absence of formal statistical correlation (e.g. Romanelli et al., 2009). In any case, the multiplicity of studies that identify the abovementioned type of correlations seem to indicate the existence of cause and effect relationships between the climatic variables in question and the abundance of many marine biological resources. In the context of aquaculture, the importance thermal levels in the water and its content of oxygen for the farming of osseous fish and of other marine animals is confirmed by the day to day experience of fisheries in periods of high atmospheric temperatures. Furthermore, it appears to be important to monitor the presence of species that are mainly distributed in tropical marine areas or those in high or medium latitudes in the macro fauna and macro flora of the Mediterranean, as a progressive expansion along the northern coasts of the basin of the first group has been observed whereas the second appears to occupy increasingly limited areas over the past 15 years (Francour et al, 1994; Occhipinti-Ambrogi, 2007; Azzurro, 2008; Moschella, 2008) (see even more below). Indicators The “sensitivity” of farmed marine species or those subject to fishing to changes in the three climatic variables mentioned above could be highlighted by identifying the “trigger levels” in the prevailing values of said variables such as to determine sudden changes in the consistency of certain marine populations. However, because these populations are subject to considerable variations from year to year, due to both endogenous (i.e. number of eggs laid, according to dimensions of the population and its age structure) and exogenous factors, in fact, it is difficult to identify any “trigger level effects”. In this sense, maybe it would be useful to analyse a wide range of scientific literature from various sectors to highlight and define the “climatic needs” of different marine species or groups of species in a less imprecise manner, via food web models (Christensen and Walters, 2004). Similar considerations also apply to marine animal farming because it is necessary to provide a 5
better assessment of other stressors (e.g. overcrowding of animals) as well as those constituted by high water temperature. Qualitative description On the basis of data reported in the “Ciesm Atlas of Exotic species in the Mediterranean” (Galil et al., 2002; Golani et al., 2002; Zenetos et al, 2004), about a decade ago this Sea had a population of 90 species of osseous fish, 37 species of decapods crustacean and 137 species of molluscs from other geographical areas, in most cases subtropical areas characterised by warm waters. These exotic species constituted about 10%-15% of the total species of their respective groups present in the Mediterranean, and many of them probably led to populations that were able to reproduce. As well as this “tropicalization” process of Mediterranean macro fauna, over the past decades, and over the past 20 years in particular, we have observed a shift from south to north of species that, until several years ago were typically found only off the coasts of North Africa and contiguous areas of Minor Asia. Along the coasts of Israel and Lebanon, some species that penetrated into the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal (so-called “lessepsian migrations”) have taken on a modest commercial relevance and have presumably entered into competition with certain endogenous species (Galil, 2007). Furthermore, the diffusion of typical warm water species appears to be in continuous acceleration, which appears to be particularly obvious for osseous fish, because it is a group that is systematically well studied (Francour et al., 1994; Azzurro, 2008). Some studies have proven a decline of some important fishing resources that is correlated with a decline in river sedimentation in certain areas of the Northern Mediterranean (Darnaude et al., 2004; Santojanni et al., 2006 and 2006b; Romanelli et al., 2009). Furthermore, the coastal sectors where marine fishing is historically more relevant (Catalonia, Gulf of Lion, Northern Adriatic and North Aegean) are characterised by the presence of important fresh waterways (Ebro, Rhone and Po rivers) e/o persistent winds at certain times of year. In fish farming, the progressive productive decline recorded over the past 20 years for marine or freshwater species with a thermal optimum that is typical of high latitudes (e.g. trout) and the parallel increase of farmed quantities for some thermophilic species (so-called “Philippine clams” among bivalve molluscs; bass and sea bream among marine fish) demonstrate the role of climatic change on the sector. 2.3 Impact of forecast climatic change on fishing and fish farming of marine species Study methods On the basis of general knowledge of oceanography, marine ecology and biology of single species, it is possible to outline the impact of climate change on the marine fishing and aquaculture sector in qualitative terms, meaning in terms of trends, whereas it appears very difficult to provide quantitative estimates. This is due to both the complexity of existing biotic and abiotic interactions for fishing resources, as well as because the collection of more accurate data on the levels and composition of unloaded products from commercial fleets (Irepa, 2006; Stergiou et al, 2007) has only begun in recent years, thanks to a specific EC regulation (EC Regulation 1581/2004). Qualitative comparisons can also be made for fish farming, for example regarding temporal trends of species that are known to have different thermal optimums in industrial farms, whereas it is difficult to obtain precise estimates in quantitative terms. In this respect, one must point out that dependable information on farmed quantities has only been available for periods of no longer than 15-30 years. Furthermore, data is usually aggregated at national level or according to type of plant, making it more difficult to compare different climatic areas. Indicators
The impact of climatic change on the two sub-sectors – marine fishing and fish farming – will be measurable in terms of decrease or increase of captures in fishing campaigns or in productive terms (physical quantities or economic value) concerning the unloaded quantities or farmed quantities. Models In the absence of more adequate models, as far as marine fishing is concerned, one deems that in the areas where it is more conspicuous due to the proven positive action of river sedimentation and strong anemometric regimes, one may admit that production levels will tend to stay within current ones in contiguous areas where these environmental “supports” are not present in the future. In the Marche area, the performance of small scale fishing (carried out with fixed nets or hydraulic dredgers for bivalve molluscs) should, therefore, decrease in a more pronounced manner in the area north of Ancona, due to the strong decrease in sedimentation from the Po River during strong floods. Furthermore, we deem that sardine fishing performance will tend to decrease overall, due to the fact that it is a species that lays its eggs during the winter and that it has had a negative trend over the past 15 years, therefore it could continue in the near future, also because of competition with other species. As far as the other species that are traditionally fished along the coasts of the Northern Mediterranean we deem that in general they shall not be favoured by an increase in temperatures, whereas this may be favourable for those that are typical of the southern coasts or of extraMediterranean tropical areas. Because fishing is focussed, due to various reasons (abundance, availability and market value), on quite a small number of target species (15-20 species of fish, molluscs and crustaceans provide the economic contribution to the total volume), it appears probable that the expansion of exotic species will not be positive for the commercial fleet. Conversely, the species with an affinity for relatively cold waters (e.g. Sprattus sprattus and Odontogadus merlangus fish) should be tangibly reduced or disappear altogether. Their location in increasingly restricted Mediterranean areas, moreover, may make them very vulnerable to albeit less relevant local fishing practices. In the case of aquaculture, the observation that this form of farming has been subject to over the past 20 years has developed enormously all over the world, and the fact that it is possible to choose the most appropriate species for local conditions suggests that the sub-sector will continue its positive trend, although we shall probably assist to the substitution of some species with others. Furthermore, the strong control over farming cycles of the species will probably make it possible to shift their seasonal distribution. Qualitative description Because of the status of excessive exploitation of resources subject to fishing in all EU waters, including the Northern Mediterranean sea, fishing fleets of member states will have to be drastically reduced in order to make the average captures compatible with the dimensions of fish population, also in light of the need to reduce pressure on the latter to take the negative effects of current climatic change into account in future (EC Regulation 2371/2002). Albeit in the absence of precise estimates for the Mediterranean species (EEA, 2002), one may reasonably hypothesise that drag net fishing, one of the methods with the most impact on marine resources because it captures numerous animal forms (part of which are usually released, or have less commercial value) will be reduced by 20%-40% of the fleet or level of activity at sea in the short and medium term (over the next 5-15 years). If one also takes into account that blue fin tuna fishing is in an extremely critical situation, to such an extent that recently some environmental associations have proposed to insert the species among those protected by the Cities convention (Kahoul, 2009/2010), it appears obvious how this entire economic sector will have to be drastically contract.
As for the farming of osseous fish or other marine animals, one can predicts that in the future the increase of average temperatures of coastal waters will favour both a substitution of the species in favour of more thermophilic ones (e.g. an increase of sea breams instead of sea bass in Italy) as well as less “forced” forms of farming (meaning with a greater room between structures over a certain areas and with feeding systems that aim more towards maintaining rather than expansion in particular critical conditions). Furthermore, plants will have to be placed in more appropriate sites from the point of view of coastal currents or in sites with discreet sea beds and will have to be equipped for emergency procedures (i.e. movement of cages to deeper waters or insufflations of pressurised air) and there will have to be a seasonal shift of current farming cycles. Finally, farming activity will become more uncertain, due to the occurrence of unfavourable environmental conditions or pathological events connected to the latter; therefore the inter-annual productive variations will have to be managed from an economic point of view. The more frequent occurrence of “explosions” of species or undesirable marine environment phenomenon (e.g. so-called “sea snow”, which is mainly due to unfavourable situations for the normal growth of phytoplankton; Giani et al., 2006) will be a further element of uncertainty both for fishing and fish farming. 2.4 Adaptive capacity of fishing and fish farming sectors Study methods The hypotheses of adaptation prospected below are based on the observation of as much as has already occurred for seawater fishing, seeing as there has been a progressive decline over the past 10-15 years of capture rates for Italian and Greek fleets (Irepa, 2006; Stergiou et al., 2007), thereby focussing the attention on situations in which decrease in production has been more pronounced. Similarly, the recent evolution of fish farming provides useful indications on the medium term evolution (within 15-20 years) of the sector. Indicators The indicators of the adaptive capacity of the two sectors are considered to be the progress over time of annual earnings from product first hand sales, average product value, and proportions between the various species that are farmed in aquaculture. Qualitative description The pronounced decrease of quantities of marine resources that the Mediterranean state fleets of the EU will be able to fish implies both a contraction of the production base as well as more attentive sale policies for the product. Very clear examples of this are, in Italy, the sector of common hen clams (Chamelea gallina), whose production has decreased in recent years to 1/5 – 1/6 compared to the values of 25-30 years ago, but the total earnings have remained unvaried in real terms thanks to higher sale prices (Romanelli et al., 2009). A similar situation can be found in the Gulf of Trieste (NE Italy), where local anchovy and sardine fishers have managed to face a decline in resources for several years by applying a strict management policy on the quantities on the market (Irepa, 2003). Furthermore, as of 2000, there has been a progressive improvement in Italy on the average daily capture rates of the drag fishing fleet because the units have reduced activity levels in certain less fortunate periods (Irepa, 2003, 2006 and 2008). It therefore appears probable that, even in the upcoming years, fishermen will have to continue to focus on a better commercialisation of their captures, by creating coalitions and production organisations of the sector pursuant to Chapter II of EC Regulation 104/2000 (there are already many in Italy, but their distribution is not sufficiently spread over different geographical locations). This is also relevant to the need to favour sustainable exploitation of marine resources, and shall constitute the basis for the determination of levels of activity at sea. 8
In the case of aquaculture, data from the past years from Greece and Italy (Lovatelli and Cardia, 2007; Ismea, 2009) shows a consistent decline of a typical species of freshwater fish such as trout and a progressive increase of production levels for a eurialine thermophilic species such as sea bream (Salmo trutta and Sparus aurata respectively) as far as osseous fish are concerned. In the same manner, the abovementioned case of high production levels obtained in Italy of Ruditapes philippinarum (Ismea, 2009) shows how there are considerable possibilities of choosing commercial species that are appropriate for local climatic conditions (although EU regulations have almost entirely prohibited the introduction of farmable alloncthonous species). In favour of the hypothesis of further development of various forms of marine fish farming, there is also the fact that all member states of the EU will have to reduce their current strong dependence on importation of fish products over the coming years (with importations that are approximately equal or even higher than total national production both in Greece and Italy; Stergiou et al, 2007; Tsikliridas et al., 2007; Lovatellie Cardia, 2007; Irepa, 2008) 2.5 Vulnerability assessment for fishing and fish farming to climate change impact Study methods There are no existing well defined models to assess the economic and social impact of climate change on the fishing sector of the Mediterranean member states of the EU. On the basis of what is has been explained thus far, the impact on the sector may be defined in descriptive, very general terms. Indicators The main indicator of the economic impact of induced changes in the fishing sector of the various States involved shall be the inter-annual variations of the first sale value of the production as well as the speed with which such increases/decreases will proceed over time. Models The fishing sector appears more vulnerable compared to fish farming because it is based on the exploitation of wild resources and because fishing companies are notoriously small. Considering the abovementioned negative overview forecast in the short and medium term for different capture systems or fishing resources (drag nets, tuna fishing, and decline of sardines), one may suppose that the trend hypothesised for drag net fishing is valid for the entirety of captures from fleets of EU Mediterranean States. In the case of aquaculture, one supposes that it may continue to grow in economic and productive terms, even if presumably the increased environmental difficulties will tend to counterbalance the favourable element of the decrease of importation from nations with lower average costs of labour. Furthermore, inter-annual production variations will have to be faced in economic terms, and this will favour an increasingly industrial approach in the farming methods and relevant business costs. Qualitative description In the Northern Mediterranean, the fishing sector will face a consistent contraction in terms of production, earning and occupational levels. Even if, in recent years, the Italian operators have limited the decline of revenue, through the application of specific marketing and cost compression policies, the reduction of volumes delivered to the market itself will tend to increase intermediation costs. In this sense, in appears plausible that the products will be characterised, at least as far as the more refined species are concerned, as a luxury product and therefore quantitatively limited, for example because it is targeted towards the touristic restoration industry. In any case, the negative or stagnant situation of the fishing sector will determine a strong reduction of the workers in the industry,
seeing as in general units at sea increase their economic efficiency by 2% per year (EC Commission 2009). On the basis of fairly similar considerations, one may predict that the possibility of obtaining good sale prices will also be important for the fish farming industry and that the occupational levels of the industry will be relatively stable or will undergo a slight increase. Qualitative description of the vulnerability of the fishing and fish farming industry in the Marche region and along the Greek coasts of the NE Ionian Sea. In light of the abovementioned summarised phenomena, one can predict that the primary and secondary productivity of the sea to the North of Ancona for the Marche region should decrease and that the level of commercial captures of the fishing industry, in merely descriptive terms, will get closer to those in the South of the region. This will obviously be true especially for the types of activities, such as clam fishing or with fixed tools (40%-50% of the regional value of the industry; Irepa, 2003, 2006 and 2008), that take place close to the coast. For the other large subsector of fishing in the Marche region, those made up of boats that operate with drag nets (40% of the value, in terms of sale prices, of regional production in 2001-2006), one can predict a strong decline in captures, both as an effect of EC policy on reducing fleets, as well as because the boats often operate on the borders of Croatian waters, and therefore their activity will also be damaged by the development of the fishing fleet of this country. As for fish farming in the Marche region, one must point out that it is currently aimed at quite modest businesses. Mussel farming could continue the positive trend that has been recorded for this activity over the past 15 years (Coopmare, 2006), but it will be in conflict with the much more consistent production levels of the waters off the coast of NE Italy, so this status could also constitute a serious obstacle in future. On the basis of available data, the unloaded quantity of fish from the fleets based in the port of Patrasso was of about 9,000 tonnes per year in 2000-2003 (Leroy et al, 2007), and the comparison with data regarding the subdivision of marine fishing in Greek waters shows a downward slope of 30%-40% compared to ten years before (Stergiou et al., 1997). Because of the abovementioned EC policy that reduces the fleets, it appears possible that over the next 10-15 years the captures will tend to decrease with approximately the same intensity. Over the past 20 years sea bass and sea bream farming has undergone turbulent development and about 1/3 of the plants are located along the coasts of the NE Ionian sea (Lovatelli and Cardia, 2007), so the economic weight of this subsector is now higher than that of the fishing sector. According to the above, the fish farming businesses should continue to have a positive economic trend, albeit with much lower growth rate than in the past. For the Patrasso area, it is important to note that the imposition of a climate with higher atmospheric temperatures and less precipitation should have a considerable impact on the Messolonghi lagoon (12 Km2 according to Leroy et al., 2007), which is of great naturalistic importance because it is home to large bird colonies for at least half the year and it is where the Evinos river feeds into the sea. Thanks to the abundance of phytoplankton, thanks to the nutrients from the river, the lagoon has benefited from a discreet activity of fishing activities and fish farming (Kotsionas, 1984). In the near future, it is foreseeable that evaporation will tend to increase in the lagoon whereas the contribution of fresh water will decrease, therefore the area should shrink, the salinity of the water should increase and therefore also the frequency of crises in the food web (which are the formation, in conditions of absence of oxygen in the waters of the sea bed, of sulphurated oxygen due to bacteria), which can lead to the death of aquatic animals in the relevant areas. In this respect, it would be desirable for the conservation measures adopted so far for this particular site to reduce or slow these processes down. However, it is necessary to note that Leroy et al. (2007) hypothesised the total disappearance of the lagoon over the long term (>100) due to the rise in sea level.
3 - Risks Study methods Regarding the complexity of existing interactions for the entire fishing sector between environmental, biological, managerial and economic factors, risk assessment (meaning the definition of the probability of occurrence of forecast impacts) is entrusted to the subjective opinion of the authors (or, in more general terms, of the single members of the scientific community), albeit based on a relatively common framework of knowledge.
Indicators The main indicators of increased risk for marine fishing are: diffusion of thermophilic species that are not original members of endogenous fauna; parameters of the populations subject to fishing that indicate excessive mortality or episodes of reproductive failure (distribution of size/age in products, decrease of average size of first reproduction, adult/young ratio); decrease of captures per fleet unit (CPUE) in scientific fishing campaigns (e.g. “MEDITS” drag net fishing campaigns, carried out during “Data Collection Framework” of the EU); increase of temperature in sea water at various depths; increase of hypoxia and anoxia episodes in coastal areas; “explosions” of undesired species. For fish farming, the main indicators of increased risk are: increase in average temperatures of the water in farming sites; slow growth and/or average mortality of farmed animals; increased incidence and seriousness of illnesses in the plants. Models To the extent to which climate models predict the establishment of consistently much higher atmospheric temperatures along the Northern coasts of the Mediterranean compared to current ones, with a parallel decrease of pluviometric and anemometric regimes, the overall pronounced decline of fishing products appears to be sure for both ecological reasons, as well as because it is in line with EU policy in matters of fishing resource management. The predictions about the future evolution of fish farming at sea are mainly based on the personal “opinions” of authors, which nonetheless appear to be sharable and discreetly probable in light of recent evolutions in this sector, the strong control that can be exercised on farming cycles, and the economic context in which such activities take place. Qualitative description It is not necessary to provide further descriptions of the reference framework, on the basis of which the risk margin, to which the different components of the fishing industry in Northern Mediterranean nations are subject to, has been defined.
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ASSESSMENT OF CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS AND LOCAL VULNERABILITIES - FISHERIES