Climate Change Impacts on Transboundary Fish Stocks in North America

Mr Juliano Palacios-Abrantes1, Dr. W.W.L.  Cheung1

1University Of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Climate change is shifting the distribution of fish stocks towards areas with cooler environment, generally in higher latitude or deeper water. Such shifts threaten to increase the amount of conflict over resources as stocks move freely in ocean waters crossing human-made management boundaries. Anticipating these shifts can help identify appropriate mechanisms of co-management and contribute to the sustainability of transboundary fisheries under climate change. Here, we explore the consequences of projected changes in fish distribution on management of existing and potentially new transboundary stocks. Firstly, using outputs from species distribution models, we projected the changes in potential catches of commonly exploited fish stocks in both Economic Exclusive Zones (EEZs) of Mexico, Canada and the United States. Then, we determined the number of current transboundary stocks that would see a significant change in distribution of catches across EEZs. Thirdly, we identify species that are currently exploited by one country but are projected to expand into neighboring EEZs and become transboundary stocks under scenarios of climate change. Our results suggest that countries in North America will have at least six new transboundary species in the future with different proportions of catch related to local fisheries today. Finally we discuss ways in which these countries can anticipate to such changes in potential catch as well as the appearance of new stocks. Identifying shifting species and the mechanisms by which countries can be more effectively in co-managing transboundary stocks can improve sustainability and prevent conflict between nations over fishing resources.


Juliano Palacios Abrantes is a Ph.D candidate at the Changing Ocean Research Unit from the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. His work looks at the socio-ecological implications of climate change on the management of transboundary stocks, that is, fish that move freely in ocean waters crossing human-made management boundaries. Juliano holds a bachelor degree in Biology from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico City and a masters degree in Environmental Science and Management from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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