A systematic literature review of climate change research on Europe's threatened commercial fish species

Climate change poses a major challenge for global marine ecosystems and species, leading to a wide range of biological and social-ecological impacts. Fisheries are among the well-known sectors influenced by multiple effects of climate change, with associated impacts highly variable among species and regions. To successfully manage fisheries, scientific evidence about the potential direct and indirect impacts of climate change on the species targeted by fisheries is needed to inform decision-making processes. This is particularly pertinent for fisheries within European seas, as they include some of the fastest warming water bodies globally, and are thus experiencing some of the greatest impacts. Here, we systematically examine the existing scientific climate-related literature of 68 species that are both commercially important in European seas and considered threatened according to the IUCN Red List to understand the extent of information that is available to inform fisheries management and identify critical knowledge gaps that can help to direct future research effort. We also explore the climate and fishing vulnerability indices of species as potential drivers of current scientific attention. We found no literature for most of these species (n = 45), and for many others (n = 19) we found fewer than five papers studying them. Climate change related research was dominated by a few species (i.e., Atlantic salmon, European pilchard, and Atlantic bluefin tuna) and regions, such as the Northeast Atlantic, revealing a highly uneven distribution of research efforts across European seas. Most studies were biologically focused and included how abundance, distribution, and physiology may be affected by warming. Few studies incorporated some level of social-ecological information. Moreover, it appears that research on species with high climate and fishing vulnerabilities is not currently prioritized. These results highlight a gap in our understanding of how climate change can impact already threatened species and the people who depend on them for food and income. Our findings also suggest that future climate-specific adaptation measures will likely suffer from a lack of robust information. More research is needed to include all the species from our list, their relevant geographic regions, and subsequent biological and social-ecological implications.

Predragovic, M., Cvitanovic, C., Karcher, D. B., Tietbohl, M. D., Sumaila, U. R., & Horta e Costa, B. (2023). A systematic literature review of climate change research on Europe’s threatened commercial fish species. Ocean & Coastal Management, 242, 106719. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2023.106719

The project that gave rise to these results received the support of a fellowship (LCF/BQ/DI21/11860039) from “la Caixa” Foundation (ID 100010434) to MP. BHC was supported by national funds through FCT - Foundation for Science and Technology, I.P. (Portugal), in agreement with the University of Algarve, in the scope of Norma Transitória with the research contract DL57/2016/CP1361/CT0038. This study received support from the Portuguese FCT – Foundation for Science and Technology to CCMAR through the strategic projects UIDB/04326/2020, UIDP/04326/2020 and LA/P/0101/2020. We thank J. A. Biquet for valuable comments and advice about the article.

Elsevier BV

Ocean and Coastal Management


Additional Links

Permanent link to this record