Fisheries and climate change: opinions from the wild capture fishing sector

Analysis and summary of an online survey of key stakeholders in the wild capture fishing sector, conducted by Marine Scotland during the COP26 climate change summit in 2021.

2 Introduction

Human activities are causing unprecedented rates of change to our climate (IPCC, 2021). The increased concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and others) in the atmosphere are also impacting the marine environment: the ocean has absorbed almost 90% of the additional heat since 1971 (von Schuckman et al., 2020), and takes up at least a quarter of the carbon dioxide emissions released to the atmosphere each year (Friedlingstein et al., 2022). This has caused ocean warming and ocean acidification (a reduction in the ocean's pH). Scotland's Marine Assessment, published in 2020, summarises the latest evidence of the currently observed changes to the marine environment and how these may likely develop in future.

Scotland has recognised that there is currently a Climate Emergency, and it is now committed by law to reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2045. Wild capture fisheries are an important component of Scotland's marine economy. Fishing generated £329 million Gross Value Added in 2019 (0.22% of the overall Scottish economy, and 6.5% of the marine economy; Scottish Government, 2022). The fishing industry has an important part to play, alongside all sectors of our society, in reducing emissions and helping to create a low carbon economy with clean, green jobs. The transition to net zero will no doubt be challenging for the fishing sector, but also presents an opportunity to make a positive impact by adjusting practices, and growing Scottish businesses and supply chains in a sustainable way to create good, sustainable jobs.

Scotland's Fisheries Management Strategy 2020-2030 (FFM Strategy) sets out a vision for Scotland to be a world class fishing nation delivering responsible and sustainable fisheries management which provides access to a high protein, low carbon food. The FFM Strategy includes some proposed actions relating to climate change and commits to the development of an action plan in partnership with stakeholders specifically intended to help the sea fishing industry to deliver towards net zero targets. In November 2021, Marine Scotland launched a questionnaire to engage with key stakeholders in the wild capture fishing sector on the subject of climate change. This engagement included aspects of climate change mitigation (i.e., reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases to address climate change) and adaptation (i.e., living with the risks and opportunities due to climate change).

This document summarises the responses received which came from across the wild capture fishing industry, public sector, academia and Non-Government Organisations (NGOs).



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