Climate and sealife

Physical climate changes such as changes in temperature, sea level and wind regimes contribute to modifications in the productivity, distribution and timing of life events (e.g. migration, spawning) of marine species. These modifications are important because changes to species’ rates of growth, survival and reproduction may have impacts on the catch and distribution of fisheries (Perry et al. 2010). In addition, they will impact non-commercial activities such as recreation and conservation.

This information links climate pressures to key species for each region by providing a score for sensitivity for various wild capture and aquaculture species to climate change.


Photo: IMAS

Species sensitivities

A recent ecological risk assessment of key wild capture fishery and aquaculture species (Pecl et al. 2011) assessed the risks species may face from climate change. The risk assessment reviewed available literature and assessed the potential impacts of physical changes (e.g. rainfall, wind, temperature) on factors such as abundance, distribution and timing of life cycle events. Criteria used to assess each species included egg production and age at maturity (abundance), capacity for movement and the availability of unoccupied habitat (distribution) and timing of migration and spawning (life cycle events). A score (low = 1 to high = 3) was produced for each species based on impacts on these three factors.

The scores were added to produce an overall sensitivity score ranging from low (1) to high (9) sensitivity to climate change. Species were ranked in each region; ranks can be found in Pecl et al. 2011. These rankings will allow fisheries managers and stakeholders to understand the likely outcomes different fisheries face and help to develop adaptation strategies for the future. We present the sensitivity scores in ‘Create a blueprint‘ to provide you with an indication of the effects climate change may have on commercial and recreational species in your area.  

Southern Region
Southern Region
Tasmania - Victoria - New South Wales.
Australian anchovy5medium-low
Australian salmon5.5medium-high
Australian sardine5medium-low
Bigeye tuna5medium-low
Black bream6.5high
Blacklip abalone6.75high
Blue grenadier6.25high
Blue mackerel5medium-low
Blue sprat5.75medium-high
Blue swimmer crab5.5medium-high
Bluespot flathead5medium-low
Commercial scallop6.5high
Dusky flathead5.25medium
Eastern king prawn6medium-high
Greenlip abalone7high
Gummy shark6medium-high
Jack mackerel5.75medium-high
King George whiting6.25high
Rock flathead5.5medium-high
Sand flathead5.75medium-high
Sandy sprat5.75medium-high
School prawn6.5high
Southern bluefin tuna5.25medium
Southern calamari6medium-high
Southern garfish5.5medium-high
Southern rock lobster6.75high
Spanner crab5.25medium
Striped marlin5.25medium
Tiger flathead5.25medium
Western king prawn5.25medium
Yellowfin tuna4.75medium-low
Yellowtail kingfish5.5medium-high
Yellowtail scad5.25medium
Western Region
Western Region
West Australia - South Australia
Australian herring6medium-high
Blue swimmer crab5.75medium-high
Brownlip abalone
Deep-water redfish5.75medium-high
Gloomy octopus4.75medium-low
Greenlip abalone6.5high
Mud crab5.75medium-high
Pink snapper6medium-high
Roe’s abalone6.5high
Silver lipped pearl oyster6.25high
Southern saucer scallop6.25high
Spanish mackerel5.25medium
Whiskery shark6.25high
Northern Region
Northern Region
Queensland - Northern Territory
Banana prawn6.25high
Barred javelin5.78medium-high
Beche de mer (sand fish)7.38high
Black jew5.83medium-high
Black spot cod5.88medium-high
Blacktip sharks6.5high
Blue swimmer crab5medium-low
Blue threadfin6.08high
Coral trout6.13high
Crimson snapper5.75medium-high
Dusky flathead5.67medium-high
Eastern king prawn6medium-high
Gold spot cod5.88medium-high
Goldband snapper5.63medium-high
Golden snapper5.75medium-high
Grass emperor5.92medium-high
Grey mackerel5.92medium-high
King threadfin6.25high
Mangrove jack5.67medium-high
Mud crab6medium-high
Pigeye shark6.63high
Pikey bream5.83medium-high
Red emperor5.92medium-high
Red spot king prawn6.17high
Red throat emperor6.25high
Saddle tail snapper5.75medium-high
Scalloped hammerhead6.63high
School mackerel6.25high
Spangled emperor5.92medium-high
Spanish mackerel5.33medium
Spanner crab5.92medium-high
Spot tail shark6.5high
Spotted mackerel5.69medium-high
Tiger prawn6.17high
Tropical lobster7.25high