MCCIP CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT Published:  08 May, 2012

Clear indications that climate change is affecting fish stocks.

The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) launched its latest Report Card today at the World Fisheries Congress in Edinburgh. It focuses on how climate change is affecting the fish and shellfish we find in our seas, providing both opportunities and threats, and what the social and economic consequences could be.

Key findings in the 2012 MCCIP Report Card include:

•       There are clear changes in the depth, distribution, migration and spawning behaviours of fish – many of which can be related to warming sea temperatures.•       Cultivated fish and shellfish are both susceptible to climate change, although fish farming technologies offer good potential for adaptation.•       Controlled or closed fishing areas (a type of protected area) that can be adapted in response to climate change have the potential to help protect commercial and vulnerable fish stocks.•       Recreational sea fishing is an important socio-economic activity that could be positively affected by climate change, due to the increasing abundance of species that are of interest to anglers.•       Shifting distributions of fish have led to a series of international disagreements and will continue to have implications for fisheries management across international boundaries.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment Richard Lochhead said:

“Climate change is affecting us all and understanding the impact on the marine environment is hugely important. Fisheries and aquaculture are vital to our economy – worth over 1 billion – and clear science is critical to secure the future of our valuable food industries. That is why I welcome the collaborative work of the MCCIP – the report card provides significant and robust scientific data which will help inform future policies to tackle climate change.”

UK Minister for the Marine Environment, Richard Benyon, said:

“I would like to thank the scientists who have contributed towards this valuable report and believe we have come a long way in a short time in understanding the impacts of climate change on the marine environment.

“The truth is that climate change is having a big impact on distribution of fish stocks and this is going to present some significant challenges for policy-makers, fisheries managers and for fishing industry itself.

“The Government will develop a National Adaptation Plan in response to the Climate Change Risk Assessment in which issues affecting the marine environment will be addressed.”

Notes for news editors

MCCIP commissioned three groups of scientists to produce a new set of scientific review papers to investigate these issues. The key finding are also summarised in a highly accessible summary report card. The card includes a ‘regional seas climate change impacts map’, which shows that most areas around the UK and Ireland are likely to be affected.

Other findings in the MCCIP report include:•       Some species are key to the integrity of marine food chains. If these are particularly affected by climate change then extensive restructuring of food chains will follow. Declines in the abundance of sandeels in the North Sea may be a particular case in point.•       Increasing demand for fish versus decreasing availability may be exacerbated by climate change.•       For cod, an important economic species in the UK, short-term stock recovery will depend primarily on reducing fishing mortality. However in the longer term, climate change might be expected to have an increasingly important effect on stocks.

The 2012 MCCIP report card on fish, fisheries and aquaculture was launched on 8th May, at the World Fisheries Congress in Edinburgh. The chair of the MCCIP report card working group, Dr. Matt Frost (MBA), the Minister for the Marine Environment, Richard Benyon and Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment in the Scottish Government all addressed the launch.

The 12-page summary report card can be accessed at Detailed peer-reviewed journal papers on all the topics covered in the summary report card can be accessed through ‘Aquatic Conservation – Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems’ ( The MCCIP Secretariat is hosted at Cefas, Lowestoft and is contactable on 01502 524508 and

The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) was launched in March 2005 and is a partnership between scientists, government, its agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and industry. The principal aim is to provide a co-ordinating framework for the UK, so as to be able to transfer high quality evidence on marine climate change impacts, and guidance on adaptation and related advice, to policy advisors and decision-makers.

MCCIP partner organisations are:•       Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Northern Ireland•       Centre for the Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science•       Countryside Council for Wales•       Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs•       Department of the Environment, Northern Ireland•       Environment Agency•       International Union for Conservation of Nature•       Isle of Man Government•       Joint Nature Conservation Committee•       Marine Scotland Science•       Marine Biological Association – Marine Environmental Change Network•       Marine Institute, Ireland•       Marine Management Organisation•       Natural England•       Royal Society for the Protection of Birds•       Scottish Government•       Scottish Natural Heritage•       Seaweb•       Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science•       States of Guernsey•       States of Jersey•       UK Met Office•       Welsh Assembly Government

For press enquiries, please contact Stephen Dye (MCCIP Secretariat) on 01502 524508

Contact: Julie MacBeath 0131 244 5193