Department of Fisheries WA researchers will join forces with CSIRO scientists over the next three years, to closely examine climate change effects on Western Australia’s marine environment.
Department of Fisheries
The $450,000 project, funded by the Australian Government’s Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), the Department of Fisheries WA and CSIRO, will utilise oceanographic modelling and an understanding of environmental effects on fisheries using some case studies.
Supervising Scientist Dr Nick Caputi, who is the department’s principal investigator on the project, said this was one of a number of FRDC-funded projects across Australia on ‘Climate Change Adaption – Marine Biodiversity and Fisheries’.
'In WA this project will be used to assess the vulnerability to climate change of fish stocks; such as western rock lobster, blue swimmer crabs, tailor and dhufish,' Dr Caputi said.
'The study will enable us to more closely monitor for any changes, so improved fisheries management strategies can be identified.
'Historic trends in environmental conditions will be examined, in addition to using oceanographic modeling to forecast trends over the next 20 and 50 years.'
Dr Caputi said the new work continued the research already undertaken on climate change through Western Australian Marine Science Institution projects.
Some key environmental trends affecting WA include:
* the increasing frequency and magnitude of ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) events;
* increasing variability of the Leeuwin Current superimposed on its weakening trend;
* an increase in water temperature and salinity;
* change in the frequency of storms affecting the lower west coast; and
* a change in the frequency of cyclones affecting the north-west.
'Climate change affects life cycles of fish stocks by altering seasonal cycles and long term trends of the physical environment, which can have a significant effect on biological parameters that are used in population dynamic models,' Dr Caputi said.
'Long-term changes in the abundance of fish stocks may require an adjustment of effort or catch quota, for the stocks to be managed in a sustainable way.'