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Fisheries - Arctic Climate Change,
Economy and Society




Key figures


WP3 leader

John Isaksen, (PhD) has been working as a researcher in NOFIMA since 1998. His research interests are the industry specific challenges in the seafood value chain. More specifically, he has been studying the interaction between actors in the value chain ...

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WP3 co-leader

Arne Eide, external scientific advisor Nofima Marked, Tromsø (associate professor in economics at Norwegian College of Fishery Science, University of Tromsø since 1998). He is also responsible of the international Master programme in Fisheries Management (IFM). He has more than 40 publications as first ...

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Information on:

 The current status of Arctic sea ice

Fisheries, aquaculture and marine mammals in the Arctic domain


One of the ACCESS Work package is devoted to the different economic and social impacts climate change might have on fisheries, aquaculture, marine mammals and societies dependent on these activities. Our main focus will be on the Barents Sea – located in Russian and Norwegian waters – and the surrounding nations and communities. This is one of the most productive oceans and active fishing areas in the world, and also one of the most dynamic areas for ocean and atmospheric circulation – connecting the North Atlantic and Europe with the Arctic regions. In the context of climate changes in the Arctic, the Barents Sea is certainly one place where we can foresee radical changes that will affect fish stocks. 

Knowledge about physical constraints is essential for understanding the evolution of the Arctic ecosystem. The aim is not to set up another marine ecosystem model, such as those of ICES and national marine research institutes, but rather to look more broadly into the sensitivity of the ecosystems and their response to essential climate variables. Also, the analysis of how Arctic climate changes affect socio-economic aspects of the fisheries and aquaculture industry, and its effect on marine mammals, will be a major task in this work package.



The main objective of the fisheries work package is to estimate and quantify how climate change impacts on Arctic fisheries and aquaculture, and the livelihood of communities and economic actors dependent of these industries. Focus will be on fisheries, aquaculture and livelihood in the European Arctic sector, and how governance can support these industries under climate change. A short review of the single tasks and their objectives follows:

  • In Task 1 the geographical distribution of fish, and hence, fishing activity, in the wake of climate change in the Barents Sea is under scrutiny. By applying bioeconomic modelling of idealized fisheries, which incorporates ecological system dynamics and spatial distribution, the economic effects of climate changes in a fisheries system will be quantified. Here, the performance of different management strategies will be evaluated. NOFIMA will by means of continuous cellular automata modeling describe the Arctic ecosystem, and quantify economic effects. SINTEF F&H will provide important input, based on IPCC scenarios and outputs from WP1. The model will rely on historical catch data and employ current knowledge, suggesting that management constraints may have greater impact than the effect of climate change in this highly fluctuating ecosystem.

  • Task 2 will address climate change’s impact on aquaculture in the Arctic. This expanding industry’s development can be enhanced by the effects of climate change. NOFIMA and BEIJER will map the current aquaculture production within the Arctic, together with the regulations and government systems in place. Also climate change effects on Arctic aquaculture will be reviewed as well as the effects from Arctic aquaculture production on the larger socio-ecological system. Productivity and location changes, along with employment are important effect variables to be considered.

  • In Task 3 the factor and product markets for capture fisheries will be evaluated under the impacts from climate changes. Two effects are foreseen: First, governments might raise or levy taxes on climate gas emissions (i.e. mineral oil taxes), which will affect the activity at sea. Also, an increase in consumers’ awareness will shift the demand for fish species – from species with high CO2-footprints to those which are more environmental friendly. These effects can render entire fisheries unprofitable. NOFIMA will evaluate how these changes may alter the activity at sea, and the catch composition of the fleet. The input structure of fishing vessels' will be studied to ascertain which inputs will most likely be affected by climate change. We expect this task to improve the understanding of climate change induced shifts in demand and supply structures, as well as the responses to these changes.

  • Task 4 addresses the socio-economic impact of climate change on the fishery sector. University of Lapland will evaluate what might be the regional and local effects, and responses of fisheries, to climate-related environmental changes. The relationship between climate change and fisheries is complex and depends on generalizations derived from case-by-case assessments of past and present. This will be considered in the context of national approaches to resource governance and adaptive strategies in the fishery. The fishery sector's climate sensitivity will be assessed using relevant measurements within regional institutional economics. The research problems will be solved by field trips, in-depth interviews and literature reviews, and UoL will propose adaptation measures in relation to the sustainability and management of fisheries and aquaculture in the Arctic.

  • In Task 5 behavioural responses of stakeholders within fisheries will be elicited. Behavioural responses of stakeholders may lead to outcomes that are not necessarily encompassed in traditional economic models of resource exploitation, which often rely on individual rationality. Such deviations may lead to inefficient policies, and eliciting behavioural responses from relevant groups can assess whether deviations can be expected and try to quantify their effects. By utilizing experimental methods, BEIJER will establish knowledge on how fishermen respond to policy interventions induced by climate changes. By addressing various commercial and subsistence fishermen, response differences among groups as well as individuals can be identified.

  • Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya will in Task 6 map the distribution of marine mammal populations in the Arctic by literature surveys and field studies. Climate change will pose a variety of threats to marine mammals. While some species may adjust to changing food availability, others may be handicapped by their very specific food requirements and hunting techniques. By mapping the current distribution of the Arctic populations of marine mammals, conservation measures may be able to address the secondary effects of climate change, thereby help to understand how circulation, stratification, sea-ice dynamics, and marine mammal utilization of arctic shelves will change in response to a diminishing ice cover. Also, climate changes might alter Eskimo whaling traditions, mediating through loss of ice coverage, reduced bowhead whale biomass, other ecosystem changes or increased human activity like transportation and exploration. The aim of this task will be to identify the threats this traditional whaling is facing as well as the conservation status of their main preys, particularly the endangered bowhead whale.

  • Task 7 all WP-partners will contribute to creating indicators for a sustainable Arctic fisheries development. These will be developed in order to determine the effects of fisheries on the marine ecosystem and the impact of changes in economic activities and whether it corresponds to a sustainable development. Environmental indicators have already been established (indicators of the state of the marine environment and indicators of the pressure that affects state) and their relevance for the Arctic region will be investigated and adapted. Additional indicators will be defined and developed to measure the impact of changes in economic activities (e.g. value creation, employment and welfare). The risks for ecosystems and local communities will be addressed. Due to uncertainties about future development, and also about ecosystem behaviour, indicators will be provided for different scenarios.

- 10/04/12

The day of the Ocean

Oslo, October 11th, 2011: the Norwegian Research Council and the Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs arranged "The day of the Ocean" - where different Norwegian research instutes presented parts of their marine research, with emphasis on the importance of the ocean and it's marine resources ...

Opening of the NorMER Centre

The opening of the NorMER centre (Nordic Centre for Research on Marine Ecosystems and Resources under Climate Change) took place on Tuesday 11th October in Oslo. Together with congratulations from distinctive quests, highly reputed scholars held presentations over themes of interest for the work - at ...