Climate change adaptation

Climate change and adaptation is a strategic challenge facing the seafood industry. Five principal climate change drivers are relevant to seafood: sea level rise; changes in storms and waves; temperature change; ocean acidification; and changes in terrestrial rainfall.

In response to this challenge, Seafish has worked with industry and external experts - Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) and Stewart Brown Associates - to develop a managed adaptive approach to climate change.  In 2014/15, with a focus on wild capture seafood, adaptation has involved:

  • reviewing projected climate change impacts with implications for seafood, and
  • identifying relevant seafood industry adaptation responses (these responses will rest with industry bodies to take forward).

From a scientific perspective, those observing climate change highlight a number of implications for the seafood industry across offshore and onshore sectors: alteration of ocean ecosystems; changing catch potential; regional shifts in stock distribution and increased severity of storms and flooding.  From an industry perspective, those experiencing climate change acknowledge near term climate related events (such as storms, flooding, changing fish distributions etc) but note that this forms part of a range of risks and uncertainties the industry routinely faces.

Adaptation responses will differ between domestic and international parts of the UK wild capture industry:

  • In a domestic context, suggested adaptation responses include: improving scientific advice and data collection through partnership working, reviewing fisheries governance for regulated and non-regulated species, enhancing vessel operational safety, investing in port resilience, and assessing freight ferry vulnerability.
  • In an international context, suggested adaptation responses include: reviewing of key sources of existing supply and available options, assessing the impact of changes in specific regional supplies, ensuring international management regimes provide early resolution on 'rights to fish', incorporating climate change into vessel and gear design, and improving resilience and capacity of overseas facilities.

For further information, please contact Angus Garrett on 0131 524 8697 or

Further information on implications and adaptation responses can be found below in the following adaptation reports.

Climate change watching brief 2016 and watching brief 2017 

One of the conclusions from the initial adaptation work was that a light touch watching brief be maintained on how climate change is affecting seafood and industry response (if any).

The first such watching brief report is attached here and the second watching brief (2017) is attached here.

The brief highlights important UK industry experiences of climate change in both domestic and international contexts.  The brief is based on a short survey of industry operators and original contributors to capture 'what they are seeing' in their part of the industry.  This exercise feeds into wider Seafish horizon scanning work.

Some of these responses are already underway, others will require closer collaboration to achieve.