CLIMATE change is happening and the south-west fishing industry will need to adapt to face the challenges, according to Deakin University’s Professor Gerry Quinn.
Professor Quinn, from Deakin’s school of life and environmental sciences, said climate change was occurring, therefore the ocean was changing and ways of developing and supporting the local industries needed to be looked at to ensure they met the challenge.
“These changes are occurring and we need to adapt,” he said.
He said like all changes there would be challenges and also opportunities.
He said the science, in terms of what was happening, was that it was a fact that sea levels were rising and the water temperature was increasing.
“The data is quite strong,” he said.
The impact of climate change on fisheries and marine environments was looked at by a think tank in Warrnambool this week.
Professor Quinn said based on the data, predictions could be made on what might happen.
He pointed to the example of a species of sea urchin which was extending its range along the east coast of Tasmania and causing problems for the abalone industry.
The Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research hosted the event at Deakin on Timor, in conjunction with Deakin University and the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority (CMA).
Professor Quinn said the workshop looked at options for adapting fishing industries to the likely effects of climate change.
He said the two key outcomes were the need for better long term information on key fish stocks, including southern rock lobster and abalone, and stronger links between research and the industry.
He said some of those links were already happening between Deakin University and the abalone industry.
Professor Quinn said yesterday’s workshop looked at how local governments and catchment management authorities could manage their estuaries under climate change.
The recently-appointed chairman of marine science at Deakin University, Professor Graeme Hays, discussed the impact of climate change on marine species distribution and Associate Professor Kevin O’Toole spoke about translating knowledge to policy for marine environments.
Post-doctoral research fellows Dr Adam Pope and Dr Jan Barton spoke on biological changes to estuarine environments under climate change.
Other speakers from the University of Tasmania, University of Melbourne, Glenelg Hopkins CMA, Western District Abalone Divers Association and Moyne Shire Council are covering topics including how the fisheries sector can respond to changes, estuary management options and physical changes likely to occur in the region.
The report is expected to be available in November.