Fisheries Redistrubution under Climate Change: Rethinking the Law to Address the “Governance Gap”

Mr Mitchell Lennan1

1Strathclyde Centre For Environmental Law And Governance, Glasgow, United Kingdom

This presentation showcases ongoing PhD reseach concerning the issue of fisheries redistribution under climate change. Scientific surveys and fisheries mathematical models tell us ocean warming and acidification is shifting the distribution of many fish species poleward, or into deeper waters. An issue with this phenomenon is that fisheries distribution is often assumed as fixed around a historical average. Redistribution could lead to disputes between States who share stocks, with consequences for food security and development. In the North-East Atlantic, this is a huge legislative challenge from a European, UK and Scottish perspective, with Brexit adding further complexity. This paper seeks to address the question: “How can international, regional, national, and subnational fisheries legislation build resilience and adaptivity to the effects of climate change on marine species, to maintain sustainable exploitation of fish stocks, and avoid disputes between States?” Building on legal questions distilled from a review of the scientific literature on this topic, the presentation will identify the legal governance gaps concerning fisheries redistribution. Considering that marine environmental law often lags behind it’s terrestrial sibling, lessons that marine environmental law can learn from its terrestrial counterpart to address species redistribution governance are identified.


Biography:

Mitchell Lennan

PhD Researcher and Events Officer, Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance (SCELG), University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

Mitchell joined SCELG as a Research Assistant in July 2017 and began his PhD at the Centre in October 2018. His research explores the interaction between global environmental law and science & technology, and how the integration of these two subject areas can address contemporary environmental issues. Mitchell has a strong interest in Law of the Sea and the marine environment, particularly fisheries and marine biodiversity.

Building on a background and previous research experience in fisheries science and International Law of the Sea, Mitchell’s PhD looks at the issue of fisheries redistribution under climate change with a focus on the North Atlantic. Scientific surveys and fisheries mathematical models tell us ocean warming and acidification is shifting the distribution of many fish species poleward, or into deeper waters. An issue with this phenomenon is that fisheries distribution is often assumed as fixed around a historical average. Redistribution can (and does) lead to disputes between States who share stocks, with consequences for food security and development. In the North Atlantic, this is a huge legislative challenge from a European, UK and Scottish perspective, with Brexit adding further complexity. Mitchell’s overarching question is: “How can international, regional, national, and subnational fisheries legislation best be adaptable to the effects of climate change on marine species, to maintain sustainable exploitation of fish stocks, and avoid disputes between States?”

Species on the Move

An International Conference Series

The conference brings together scientists and natural resource managers working in the disciplines of global change, biogeography and evolution, and relevant in contexts of natural resource management, biodiversity management and conservation, and theoretical ecology.


Species responses to climate change is a rapidly evolving research field, however, much of our progress is being made in independent research areas: e.g. understanding the process vs responding to the implications, terrestrial vs marine ecosystems, global meta-analyses vs in depth species-specific approaches. This interdisciplinary conference develops connections between these parallel streams, and across temporal and spatial scales.

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