Direct effects of climate change on productivity of European aquaculture

Alhambra Martínez Cubillo, João G. Ferreira, João Lencart-Silva, Nick G.H. Taylor, Adam Kennerley, James Guilder, Susan Kay, Pauline Kamermans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Aquaculture managers and industry must take into account the impact of climate change on production and environmental quality to ensure that sector growth is sustainable over the coming decades, a key requirement for food security. The potential effects of climate change on aquaculture range from changes to production capacity in existing cultivation areas to changes in the areas themselves, which may become unsuitable for particular species, but also suitable for new species. The prediction of where and how such changes may occur is challenging, not least because the cultivated species may themselves exhibit plasticity, which makes it difficult to forecast the degree to which different locations and culture types may be affected. This work presents a modelling approach used to predict the potential effects of climate change on aquaculture, considering six key finfish and shellfish species of economic importance in Europe: Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata), sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax), Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas), blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) and Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis). The focus is on effects on physiology, growth performance and environmental footprint, and the resultant economic impact at the farm scale. Climate projections for present-day conditions; mid-century (2040–2060) and end-of-century (2080–2100) were extracted from regionally downscaled global climate models and used to force bioenergetic models. For each of those time periods, two different carbon concentration scenarios were considered: a moderate situation (IPCC RCP 4.5) and an extreme situation (IPCC RCP 8.5). Projected temperature changes will have variable effects on growth depending on the species and geographic region. From the case studies analysed, gilthead bream farmed in sea cages in the western Mediterranean was the most vulnerable, whereas offshore-suspended mussel culture in SW Portugal was least affected. Most of the marine finfish simulated were projected to have decreased feeding efficiency in both mid-century and end-of-century climate scenarios. Bivalve shellfish showed a decreasing trend with respect to most productivity parameters as climate change progresses, under both emission scenarios. As a general trend across species and regions, economic uncertainty is expected to increase under all future projections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1561-1590
Number of pages30
JournalAquaculture International
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • Aquaculture
  • Climate change
  • IPCC
  • Management
  • Modelling
  • Productivity


Dive into the research topics of 'Direct effects of climate change on productivity of European aquaculture'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this