Ecosystem approach to harvesting in the Arctic : walking the tightrope between exploitation and conservation in the Barents Sea

Heath, Michael R. and Benkort, Déborah and Brierley, Andrew S. and Daewel, Ute and Laverick, Jack H. and Proud, Roland and Speirs, Douglas C. (2021) Ecosystem approach to harvesting in the Arctic : walking the tightrope between exploitation and conservation in the Barents Sea. Ambio. ISSN 1654-7209

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    Abstract

    Projecting the consequences of warming and sea-ice loss for Arctic marine food web and fisheries is challenging due to the intricate relationships between biology and ice. We used StrathE2EPolar, an end-to-end (microbes-to-megafauna) food web model incorporating ice-dependencies to simulate climate-fisheries interactions in the Barents Sea. The model was driven by output from the NEMO-MEDUSA earth system model, assuming RCP 8.5 atmospheric forcing. The Barents Sea was projected to be >95% ice-free all year-round by the 2040s compared to >50% in the 2010s, and approximately 2°C warmer. Fisheries management reference points (FMSY and BMSY) for demersal fish (cod, haddock) were projected to increase by around 6%, indicating higher productivity. However, planktivorous fish (capelin, herring) reference points were projected to decrease by 15%, and upper trophic levels (birds, mammals) were strongly sensitive to planktivorous fish harvesting. The results indicate difficult trade-offs ahead, between harvesting and conservation of ecosystem structure and function.

    ORCID iDs

    Heath, Michael R. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6602-3107, Benkort, Déborah, Brierley, Andrew S., Daewel, Ute, Laverick, Jack H. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8829-2084, Proud, Roland and Speirs, Douglas C. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4367-1459;