Large benefits to marine fisheries of meeting the 1.5°C global warming target

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Science  23 Dec 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6319, pp. 1591-1594
DOI: 10.1126/science.aag2331

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Marine benefits of the Paris Agreement

Keeping recent global agreements to limit temperature increases to 1.5° to 2°C above preindustrial levels will have benefits across terrestrial ecosystems. But what about marine ecosystems? Cheung et al. modeled the influence of temperature increases on two key measures of fishery sustainability, catch and species turnover (see the Perspective by Fulton). Limiting temperature increases to 1.5°C substantially improved catch potential and decreased turnover of harvested species. These results provide further support for meeting this important goal.

Science, this issue p. 1591; see also p. 1530


Translating the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial level into impact-related targets facilitates communication of the benefits of mitigating climate change to policy-makers and stakeholders. Developing ecologically relevant impact-related targets for marine ecosystem services, such as fisheries, is an important step. Here, we use maximum catch potential and species turnover as climate-risk indicators for fisheries. We project that potential catches will decrease by more than 3 million metric tons per degree Celsius of warming. Species turnover is more than halved when warming is lowered from 3.5° to 1.5°C above the preindustrial level. Regionally, changes in maximum catch potential and species turnover vary across ecosystems, with the biggest risk reduction in the Indo-Pacific and Arctic regions when the Paris Agreement target is achieved.

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