Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Quantifying the effects of climate change and water abstraction on a population of barramundi (Lates calcarifer), a diadromous estuarine finfish

M. Tanimoto A , J. B. Robins A C , M. F. O’Neill B , I. A. Halliday A and A. B. Campbell A

A Agri-Science Queensland, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Ecosciences Precinct, GPO Box 267, Brisbane, Qld 4001, Australia.

B Agri-Science Queensland, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Maroochy Research Station, 47 Mayers Road, Nambour, Qld 4560, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: julie.robins@daff.qld.gov.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 63(8) 715-726 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF11246
Submitted: 4 December 2011  Accepted: 21 June 2012   Published: 20 August 2012

Abstract

Many aquatic species are linked to environmental drivers such as temperature and salinity through processes such as spawning, recruitment and growth. Information is needed on how fished species may respond to altered environmental drivers under climate change so that adaptive management strategies can be developed. Barramundi (Lates calcarifer) is a highly prized species of the Indo-West Pacific, whose recruitment and growth is driven by river discharge. We developed a monthly age- and length-structured population model for barramundi. Monte Carlo Markov Chain simulations were used to explore the population’s response to altered river discharges under modelled total licenced water abstraction and projected climate change, derived and downscaled from Global Climate Model A1FI. Mean values of exploitable biomass, annual catch, maximum sustainable yield and spawning stock size were significantly reduced under scenarios where river discharge was reduced; despite including uncertainty. These results suggest that the upstream use of water resources and climate change have potential to significantly reduce downstream barramundi stock sizes and harvests and may undermine the inherent resilience of estuarine-dependent fisheries.

Additional keywords: fish growth, management, population model, recruitment, river discharge, Sea Bass, simulation, stock assessment.


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