The State of Climate Adaptation in U.S. Marine Fisheries Management

This report presents the results of EcoAdapt’s efforts to survey adaptation action in marine fisheries management by examining the major climate impacts on marine and coastal fisheries in the United States, assessing related challenges to fisheries management, and presenting examples of actions taken to decrease vulnerability and/or increase resilience. First, we provide a summary of climate change impacts and secondary effects on fisheries, focusing on changes in air and water temperatures, precipitation patterns, storms, ocean circulation, sea level rise, and water chemistry. We then examine non-climatic factors that affect fisheries management, such as overfishing, bycatch, pollution, habitat degradation and modification, invasive and non-native species, and conflicting uses of marine and coastal ecosystems. Next, we examine how the aforementioned issues combine to influence abundance and productivity, distribution and recruitment, and essential fish habitat. Then we present the results of a survey sent to federal, tribal, state, and other practitioners to identify challenges, needs, and opportunities for climate-informed fisheries management and conservation. Summaries of and trends in commonly used adaptation approaches and examples from our survey and other resources are presented in four broad categories (Gregg et al. 2011; Gregg et al. 2012):

  1. Capacity Building: Strategies include conducting research and assessments, investing in training and outreach efforts, developing new tools and resources, and monitoring climate change impacts and adaptation effectiveness.
  2. Policy: Strategies include developing adaptation plans, creating new or enhancing existing policies, and developing adaptive management strategies.
  3. Natural Resource Management and Conservation: Strategies include incorporating climate change into restoration efforts, enhancing connectivity, reducing local change, and reducing non-climate stressors that may exacerbate the effects of climate change.
  4. Infrastructure, Planning, and Development: Strategies include protecting critical coastal infrastructure used by the fishing industry, and creating or modifying coastal development measures (e.g., removing shoreline hardening, encouraging low-impact development) to increase habitat resilience.

The majority of adaptation efforts in fisheries management to date have been focused on capacity building, including conducting research and assessments, creating resources and tools, and monitoring how climatic changes are affecting species, habitats, and fishing communities. Finally, we discuss several more options to advance adaptation in the fisheries sector that are either not yet represented or are only partially addressed by the examples from our survey. 

Fish, Fisheries, and Water Resources: Adapting to Ontario’s Changing Climate

Location

United States
48° 54' 11.6856" N, 84° 48' 52.0308" W
US
Summary: 

This integrated research project, which ran from 2007-2008, was initiated to better understand the implications of projected climate change impacts and adaptation responses on southern Ontario’s fish, fisheries, and water resources. Climate change will have predominantly negative effects on species and habitats, and resulting economic effects are expected to be devastating to the region. In addition, changes in temperature and precipitation patterns will require alterations to water resources planning and management.

Climate Change Field Guide for Northern Minnesota Forests: Site-level considerations and adaptation

Location

United States
48° 3' 4.1724" N, 92° 57' 6.5304" W
US
Tool Overview: 

This field guide is designed as a quick reference on climate change for northern Minnesota forests. The intent is to highlight key information that can be used during field visits or forest planning. We hope that this guide will help foresters consider climate change risks together with local site characteristics, and also that it will help people design adaptation actions that help meet management goals.

Future Sea Level Rise and the New Jersey Coast: Assessing Potential Impacts and Opportunities

Increasing rates of sea level rise caused by global warming are expected to lead to permanent inundation, episodic flooding, beach erosion and saline intrusion in low-lying coastal areas. Sea level rise is a significant and growing threat to the coastal region of New Jersey, USA and this study presents a comprehensive assessment of the expected impacts. We project future sea level rise based on historical measurements and global scenarios, and apply them to digital elevation models to illustrate the extent to which the New Jersey coast is vulnerable. We estimate that 1 to 3 % of New Jersey’s land area will be affected by inundation and 6.5 to over 9 % by episodic coastal flooding over the next century. We also characterize potential impacts on the socioeconomic and natural systems of the New Jersey coast focusing on Cape May Point for illustrative purposes. We then suggest a range of potential adaptation and mitigation opportunities for managing coastal areas in response to sea level rise. Our findings suggest that where possible a gradual withdrawal of development from some areas of the New Jersey coast may be the optimum management strategy for protecting natural ecosystems.

The State of Climate Adaptation in Water Resources Management: Southeastern United States and U.S. Caribbean

The intent of this report is to provide a brief overview of key climate change impacts and a review of the prevalent work occurring on climate change adaptation in the Southeastern United States and U.S. Caribbean, especially focusing on activities as they relate to water resources. The Southeastern United States includes Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas, and Florida. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) comprise the U.S. Caribbean region. This report presents the results of EcoAdapt’s efforts to survey, inventory, and, where possible, assess climate-informed water resources action in the region.

The synthesis includes:

  • A summary of key regional climate change impacts and discussion on how the aforementioned issues combine to influence water supply, demand and use, quality, and delivery;
  • The results of a survey sent to federal, tribal, state, and other practitioners to identify challenges, needs, and opportunities for climate-informed water resources management;
  • Examples of adaptation initiatives from the region, focusing on activities in the natural and built environments as they relate to water resources;
  • Eighteen full-length case studies, detailing how adaptation is taking shape; and
  • A guide to the current suite of tools available to support adaptation action in water resources management, planning, and conservation.

Climate Change Adaptation Strategies for Resources of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests

This report summarizes the results of a two-day adaptation planning workshop for the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests as part of their forest plan revision process. The workshop focused on identifying adaptation options for eight key resource areas, including forested vegetation, non-forested vegetation, wildlife, hydrology, fisheries, recreation, cultural/heritage values, and ecosystem services. The report includes a general overview of the workshop methodology and provides a suite of possible adaptation strategies and actions for each key resource area. Adaptation actions were linked with the climate-related vulnerabilities they help to ameliorate as well as the direct/indirect effects they may have on other resource areas.

Massachusetts Climate Action Tool

Location

MA
United States
42° 27' 45.5112" N, 72° 27' 30.5856" W
Massachusetts US
Tool Overview: 

The Massachusetts Wildlife Climate Action Tool is designed to inform and inspire local action to protect the Commonwealth’s natural resources in a changing climate. It was developed for local decision-makers, conservation practitioners, large landowners, and community leaders across the state. 

With this tool, you can:

A Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for Resources of Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests

This report summarizes the results of a vulnerability assessment for 28 focal resources, including 8 ecosystems and 20 species, identified as important by Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests as part of their forest plan revision process. The report includes a general summary of past and projected climate trends for the region; downscaled climate data and trends; vulnerability assessment methods; and vulnerability assessment findings for 28 ecosystems and species.

Southern California Climate Adaptation Project

Location

CA
United States
34° 21' 19.0908" N, 116° 54' 41.9544" W
California US
Summary: 

The Southern California Climate Adaptation Project was initiated to improve understanding about the vulnerability of important southern California habitats to climate change and to develop adaptation strategies designed to reduce vulnerabilities and/or increase resilience of habitats. This project used a collaborative, stakeholder-driven process that involved soliciting input from land and resource managers, conservation practitioners, scientists, and others from federal and state agencies, universities, and nongovernmental organizations.

Land Conservation in a Changing Climate: Stewardship Science and Financing

The purpose of the 2016 Berkley Workshop was to explore some of the ways that land conservation groups might best respond to our changing climate, with particular emphasis on the science and finance guiding and enabling the stewardship of natural areas.

Among the major themes were the following:

  • While increasing numbers of land trusts are incorporating the changing climate into their work, important issues arise around how useful traditional tools will be, as well as whether many land trusts have the capacity to engage in the more active management of conserved lands that is likely to be required.
  • There are many ways that the stewardship of conserved lands may help address aspects of climate change, from storing carbon to mitigating flooding or heat waves. Capturing those benefits will require more systematic efforts to demonstrate that natural areas can provide those services in ways that fit infrastructure owners' and investors' decision-making contexts and criteria.
  • Sources of funding for conservation projects with climate benefits continue to expand in number and quantity. However, the site specificity of such projects raises real questions about how the volume of replicable investment opportunities that large investors are seeking can best be generated from such projects.
  • In addition to science and finance, the participants felt it was also critically important to engage on the social aspects of these topics--in particular, the need to expand the range of human communities that benefit from the climate and other services provided by conserved lands. Meeting this need will require new collaborations among conservation organizations and others working on topics from renewable energy to climate justice.