Summing up Sendai: Progress Integrating Climate Change Science and Fisheries

The Sendai Conference promotes global stabilization and understanding of international waters and inter-related events by pointing out what needs to be improved upon and the successes we have witnessed thus far.  Overwhelming evidence was presented at the Sendai Conference of the instability of marine fisheries caused by climate-dependent factors, which include productivity, spatial distribution, phenology, and human dimensions.  Not all changes within these factors may be negative but they provide little certainty of how society will adapt. –Alyshia Silva
Murawski, S.A. 2011.  Summing up Sendai: Progress Integrating Climate Change Science and Fisheries.  ICES Journal of Marine Science 68, 1368–1372

          Control of overfishing has become a global priority to ensure food security, and the Sendai Conference placed a global focus on dealing with the issues, rather than specific regions, species, or other subsets within climate change.  Using meta-analyses is becoming a reality with coupled modeling, nesting atmosphere, land, ocean, and other biological components together, and methodologies and models are improving quickly.  Methods that bring together regional downscaling (atmospheric models linked to terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems) and upscaling (oceanographic models nested in atmospheric models) are a new development that can provide holistic data and ways to deal with it. 
          In particular with downscaling, there are no standardized methods and approaches do not exist.  Instead, different methodologies for projecting regional and local climates are used and more consistent frameworks are needed.  Most studies to date have operated on a species-by-species basis and the lack of species interactions is a clear flaw of these studies.  Integrating trophic dynamics through foodweb analyses and size-based methods must become incorporated into existing methodologies as a feasible path to sustainability.           There is also great bias towards certain areas where fisheries are examined, such as the North Atlantic, North Pacific, southern Africa, and a few other places globally.  We must identify other pertinent climate “hotspots” and focus our attention there as well, whether they be locations that are not well-studied or vulnerable locations that may not exhibit extreme temperature increases. 
          The effects of climate change become confounded by both additive and multiplicative factors and interactions, worsening issues of marine fisheries.  Holistic data through the sciences, social sciences, and policy must come together to understand the synergistic effects, and coupling multi-sectoral models are needed to understand ecosystem and community effects.  The issue itself branches across multiple disciplines and will affect all societies but in, perhaps, different ways considering that access to science and technology is not equal and significant latitudinal responses will occur, allowing certain places to adapt more readily than others. 
          It is also key to understand the direct role humans play within this system, especially because of the economic and regulatory environment fisheries are in.  Discussions at Sendai encouraged knowledge from all different types of people and places, therefore exploring diverse perceptions and increase communication among various societal groups.  With this information, we can perhaps explore the positive economic effects of other countries, considering that productivity will shift pole-wards. 
          There are also clear issues between fisheries and climate change specialists – fishery decision-makers are primarily focused on short-term goals while climate change specialists’ focus is upon long-term changes.  The time-scale solution lies in better communicating the climate-fishery impacts of actions to both parties.  The ecosystem approach, an integrated method, encourages society to deal with highly complex issues, especially in a global context.  

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