Changes in fish distribution are being observed across the globe. In Europe’s Common Fisheries Policy, the share of the catch of each fish stock is split among management areas using a fixed allocation key known as ‘Relative Stability’: in each management area, member states get the same proportion of the total catch each year.

CERES researchers analysed scientific survey data using a three-tiered analytical approach to provide, for the first time, an overview of changes in distribution for 19 northeast Atlantic fish species encompassing 73 commercial stocks over 30 years. All species have experienced changes in distribution, five of which did so across management areas. A cross-species analysis suggested that shifts in areas of suitable thermal habitat, and density-dependent use of these areas, are at least partly responsible for the observed changes.

Baudron A, Brunel T, Blanchet MA, Hidalgo M, Chust G, Brown E, Kleisner K, Millar C, MacKenzie B, Nikolioudakis N, Fernandes J. Changing fish distributions challenge the effective management of European fisheries. Ecography. 2019 Nov 29.