Climate change and the Antarctic marine ecosystem: an essay on management implications
In this paper we review evidence for, and anticipated consequences of, climate change in Antarctic marine communities, examining the potential impacts on invertebrates and vertebrates alike and exploring plausible outcomes for species, with examples principally from the Antarctic literature. We suggest that industries with the greatest potential to aggravate climate change impacts on marine communities are marine capture fisheries. In the Southern Ocean, harvesting is governed under the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). CCAMLR espouses an ecological management framework and so has the capacity to mitigate harvesting impacts such that they do not worsen impacts from climate change. We discuss some of the implications of climate change and advocate that CCAMLR address certain key issues if it is to fulfil its international obligations. It will be essential for CCAMLR to determine relative risks (uncertainties), impacts and timescales, of various processes consequent on climate change. Such risk assessments should be feasible with current knowledge and should provide a focus for future work. We believe it will be important to prioritize issues that reduce impacts and uncertainties by the greatest degree, and propose that future plans should involve shared responsibility (e.g. with SCAR etc.) for each of the risks described.