The world has set ambitious goals to protect marine biodiversity and improve ocean health in the face of anthropogenic threats. Yet, the efficiency of spatial tools such as marine reserves to protect biodiversity is threatened as climate change shifts species distributions globally. Here, we investigate the ability of global marine reserves to protect fish biomass under future climate change scenarios. Moreover, we explore regional patterns and compare worlds with and without marine reserves. We rely on computer modeling to simulate an utopian world where all marine reserves thrive and ocean governance is effective. Results suggest that climate change will affect fish biomass in most marine reserves and their surrounding waters throughout the 21st century. The biomass change varies among regions, with tropical reserves losing biomass, temperate ones gaining, and polar reserves having mixed effects. Overall, a world with marine reserves will still be better off in terms of fish biomass than a world without marine reserves. Our study highlights the need to promote climate resilient conservation methods if we are to maintain and recover biodiversity in the ocean under a changing world.
Incorporating protected areas into global fish biomass projections under climate change
Talya ten Brink
Article published in PLOS ONE