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MARINFORSK-Marine ressurser og miljø

Winners and losers in the climate casino: Arctic marine resources under climate change

Alternative title: Vinnere og tapere i klimakasinoet: Arktiske marine ressurser under klimaendring

Awarded: NOK 12.0 mill.

As effective measures against climate change are not implemented, climate-related risk and uncertainty increases in more and larger parts of both environment and society. William Nordhaus has popularized an understanding of the global development in the book The Climate Casino (Yale University Press, 2013), where some species and related economic activities will flourish with climate change, while others will suffer. But there is significant uncertainty with regard to who become winners and who become losers, both in nature and society. But as Nordhaus explain we as society will likely lose, as expected in a casino. The main purpose of the project is to study climate change effects in various fisheries in Arctic and sub-Arctic waters. Among the fisheries we will study are cod fisheries in both the Barents and Bering Seas, pelagic fisheries for herring and mackerel in the Nordic Seas, and crab fisheries in various places in the region. The fisheries will be analyzed within a common, theoretic framework and we will track main impacts of climate change through the natural and societal parts of the seas and the economic activities they support. Our interdisciplinary and comparative perspective builds on experiences from our case studies to identify common and case-specific challenges. Our results will increase the understanding of climate-related challenges for Arctic marine resources and support integrated ocean management. A successful project will contribute to the research front with regard to the interdisciplinary understanding of Arctic marine environments and fisheries. A key moment will be a close and continuous collaboration between researchers from different disciplines who are based in a common perception and sense of the issues at hand. Further, the project addresses the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 on life in the ocean and contributes to the ongoing UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

More than anywhere else on earth, climate change affects Arctic marine environments, resources, economies, and societies. Higher temperatures, retreating sea ice, increasing acidity, and many other vectors of change redefine conditions of biological life, ecological structures, and socioeconomic opportunities in the high north. Direct impacts on Arctic marine resources, in particular fish stocks, can benefit fishing and related activities, but indirect and systemic effects are less investigated. Assessing the impacts of climate change on the oceans, marine ecosystems, and communities that depend on them is a complex problem that requires convergence research – intimate collaboration between multiple scientific disciplines – to improve our ability to understand the pathways and effects of change. We propose a research project that seeks to uncover pathways of climate-driven change in Arctic marine resources by applying a framework for integrated ecosystem-based management. The proposed project will combine insights from a series of case studies to identify priorities for integrated ocean management in the Arctic. We aim to study impacts of climate change on fish, shellfish and their fisheries in the extended Arctic, which includes the Barents, Nordic and Bering Seas. We focus specially on biological and economic productivity changes, resilience of ocean resource management systems, and international governance. We will strengthen and complement the existing interdisciplinary approach on ecosystem-based fisheries management towards 1) a pan-Arctic perspective on Arctic marine resources under climate change and 2) understanding inherent complexities arising from the increasingly intertwined interactions between society and the natural environment it uses for its support. The project we propose leverages existing knowledge to support integrated ecosystem-based management of Arctic marine resources in the climate casino.

Funding scheme:

MARINFORSK-Marine ressurser og miljø