Fishing and climate change: what future for Mediterranean fish catches?

  • Research
Published on June 7, 2023 Updated on June 7, 2023

on the April 21, 2023


Due to global warming, the geographical range of fished species will change in the future and will lead to a redistribution of fish stocks in the seas and oceans. How extensive will the expected changes be in terms of potential catches? Researchers from Université Côte d'Azur (ECOSEAS), the Centre Scientifique de Monaco, the Laboratoire d'Océanographie de Villefranche sur Mer and the Genoa Marine Center (Station Zoologique Anton Dohrn) have joined forces to address this issue.

Researchers have modeled, projected and mapped the expected changes throughout the 21st century of the catch potential of different fishing gears, based on two climate scenarios.

For the first time, scientists have focused on the European zone and worked at the scale of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) to provide detailed projections that will be used to improve fisheries management and develop climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies for this sector. The results of this study have recently been published in Science of the Total Environment (see article references). 

Catch trends vary depending on the fishing gear

Projections indicate that catch trends will vary depending on the fishing gear. In the Mediterranean, projected declines range from -20 to -75% for pelagic trawl and seine catches, from -50 to -75% for fixed nets and traps, and exceed -75% for bottom trawl. Some emblematic species, such as seabass and gilthead seabream, could see their catches fall by an average of 40% across the Mediterranean.

Geographically, prospects could vary. Some countries could see their catches fall significantly, while others are likely to see them rise. Southern and eastern Mediterranean countries in particular will be hardest hit. In the North Sea and Northeast Atlantic, however, catches of the species studied should increase.

By limiting global warming to intermediate values (moderate warming scenario RCP4.5), the drop in Mediterranean fish catches could be reduced by an average of 22%, when comparing with an intense warming scenario (RCP8.5). These results confirm the need to limit global warming and develop climate change adaptation strategies to save the fishing industry.
Article reference

Ben Lamine, E., Schickele, A., Guidetti, P., Allemand, D., Hilmi, N., Raybaud, V., 2023. Redistribution of fisheries catch potential in Mediterranean and North European waters under climate change scenarios. Science of The Total Environment 879, 163055.


This study was carried out as part of the CLIM-ECO2project, funded by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.


Virginie RAYBAUD -