The growth of finfish in global openocean aquaculture under climate change

Dane H. Klinger, Simon Asher Levin, James R. Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Aquaculture production is projected to expand from land-based operations to the open ocean as demand for seafood grows and competition increases for inputs to land-based aquaculture, such as freshwater and suitable land. In contrast to land-based production, open-ocean aquaculture is constrained by oceanographic factors, such as current speeds and seawater temperature, which are dynamic in time and space, and cannot easily be controlled. As such, the potential for offshore aquaculture to increase seafood production is tied to the physical state of the oceans. We employ a novel spatial model to estimate the potential of open-ocean finfish aquaculture globally, given physical, biological and technological constraints. Finfish growth potential for three common aquaculture species representing different thermal guilds-Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) and cobia (Rachycentron canadum)-is compared across species and regions and with climate change, based on outputs of a high-resolution global climate model. Globally, there are ample areas that are physically suitable for fish growth and potential expansion of the nascent aquaculture industry. The effects of climate change are heterogeneous across species and regions, but areas with existing aquaculture industries are likely to see increases in growth rates. In areas where climate change results in reduced growth rates, adaptation measures, such as selective breeding, can probably offset potential production losses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20170834
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1864
StatePublished - Oct 11 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


  • Aquaculture
  • Climatem change adaptation
  • Mariculture
  • Offshore aquaculture
  • Open-ocean aquaculture
  • Thermal performance curve


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