Transitional states in marine fisheries: adapting to predicted global change.
Global climate change has the potential to substantially alter the production and community structure of marine fisheries and modify the ongoing impacts of fishing. Fish community composition is already changing in some tropical, temperate and polar ecosystems, where local combinations of warming trends and higher environmental variation anticipate the changes likely to occur more widely over coming decades. Using case studies from the Western Indian Ocean, the North Sea and the Bering Sea, we contextualize the direct and indirect effects of climate change on production and biodiversity and, in turn, on the social and economic aspects of marine fisheries. Climate warming is expected to lead to (i) yield and species losses in tropical reef fisheries, driven primarily by habitat loss; (ii) community turnover in temperate fisheries, owing to the arrival and increasing dominance of warm-water species as well as the reduced dominance and departure of cold-water species; and (iii) increased diversity and yield in Arctic fisheries, arising from invasions of southern species and increased primary production resulting from ice-free summer conditions. How societies deal with such changes will depend largely on their capacity to adapt - to plan and implement effective responses to change - a process heavily influenced by social, economic, political and cultural conditions.