09 November 2018
By Dr Susan Kay, Plymouth Marine Laboratory

Project 10 will use modelling approaches to investigate what the future might look like at the Blue Communities case study sites. How much will temperatures rise due to climate change? What will the effect be on marine ecosystems, and on populations of the key fish species? We will work with two of the emissions scenarios used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5, where greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise throughout the century as they have for the last few years, and the more moderate RCP 4.5, where CO2 levels rise more slowly and then level out by the end of the century. The aim is to create plausible projections of what the future environment might be like under two different greenhouse gas scenarios, which can be used to inform planning for fisheries and environmental management.  

We will start by running a model to project conditions of the physical environment and the bottom of the marine food chain: temperature, salinity, oxygen levels, plankton biomass etc. These projections will give insight into the future health of key habitats, such as coral reefs. The outputs will also be used to run a second model which estimates the population of selected fish species under those conditions. Anchovie map showing abundance change between 2000-2020 and 2040-2060We will focus on fish which are important for the livelihood of local populations, such as small pelagics (e.g. sardinella, anchovies), reef fishes (e.g. groupers and snappers), as well as larger offshore opportunities like tuna (e.g. skipjack, yellowfin, frigate). In addition to impact of climate, the fish projections can give an insight into the impact of fisheries activity. Consequently, we will look at different level of fishing expressed as the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY): overfishing (above MSY), and managed stock (below MSY) as well as in the absence of fishing (impact of climate only). The fish projections will give us an insight into trends in abundance and distribution of fishes, as well as the potential catches.

So far we have done the preparatory work: finding driving data to run the models, selecting key fish species to focus on and looking at what global climate models are saying about this region. Over the next few months we’ll be running the models and beginning to distribute the findings to project partners – the model outputs will be helpful for many aspects of the Blue Communities programme. We’ll also be holding a training workshop for partners about how to access, use and communicate findings from climate models, and we’ll be providing ongoing support to partners who’d like to use our model products.
Project 10: Future scenarios of changes in resources
Project lead: Dr Susan Kay (Plymouth Marine Laboratory), Dr Sevrine Sailley (Plymouth Marine Laboratory)
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