National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2021

Predicted shifts of groundfish distribution in the Eastern Bering Sea under climate change, with implications for fish populations and fisheries management

Rooper, C.N., I. Ortiz, A.J. Hermann, N. Laman, W. Cheng, K. Kearney, and K. Aydin

ICES J. Mar. Sci., doi: 10.1093/icesjms/fsaa215, View online (open access) (2020)

Climate-related distribution shifts for marine species are, in general, amplified in northern latitudes. The objective of this study was to predict future distributions of commercially important species in the eastern Bering Sea under six climate scenarios, by incorporating predictions of future oceanographic conditions. We used species distribution modelling to determine potential distribution changes in four time periods (2013–2017, 2030–2039, 2060–2069, and 2090-2099) relative to 1982–2012 for 16 marine fish and invertebrates. Most species were predicted to have significant shifts in the centre of gravity of the predicted abundance, the area occupied, and the proportion of the predicted abundance found in the standard bottom trawl survey area. On average the shifts were modest, averaging 35.2 km (ranging from 1 to 202 km). There were significant differences in the predicted trend for distribution metrics among climate scenarios, with the most extensive changes in distribution resulting from Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 climate scenarios. The variability in distributional shifts among years and climate scenarios was high, although the magnitudes were low. This study provides a basis for understanding where fish populations might expand or contract in future years. This will provide managers’ information that can help guide appropriate actions under warming conditions.

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