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. 

Cost-Efficient Climate Change Adaptation in the North Atlantic

This report summarizes the work of two NOAA-funded graduate fellows research on community-level coastal flood management and climate change adaptation best practices throughout the North Atlantic region (Virginia to Maine). Guided by a steering committee composed of government and academic personnel involved with climate adaptation throughout the North Atlantic, the fellows visited coastal communities to collect information on low-cost climate change and related coastal hazard management best practices. The purpose of the work was to identify and collate cost-effective adaptation projects implemented at the municipal level, to provide NOAA with best practice information to assist with ongoing adaptation outreach.

Hawaiian Islands Climate Vulnerability and Adaptation Synthesis

The goal of the Hawaiian Islands Climate Synthesis Project was to develop comprehensive, science-based syntheses of current and projected future climate change impacts on, and adaptation options for, terrestrial and freshwater resources within the main Hawaiian Islands. The Hawaiian Islands Climate Vulnerability and Adaptation Synthesis presents the results of the major project components - climate impacts assessment, vulnerability assessment, and adaptation planning - and provides an inter-island analysis of the findings. More detailed information is available in the individual vulnerability assessment syntheses and adaptation summaries, and should be referred to for decision support, which can be found at http://bit.ly/HawaiiClimate.

Integrating Climate Change into Plan Revisions at El Yunque National Forest

Location

El Yunque National Forest Rio Grande
Puerto Rico
18° 19' 8.634" N, 65° 47' 34.7964" W
PR
Summary: 

In 2012, the U.S. Forest Service released a Planning Rule requiring the integration of climate change impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation into revisions of forest management plans. The El Yunque National Forest began the forest plan revision process in 2014. A draft plan to guide forest resource management was released in September 2016; the final plan is expected to go into effect in 2018.

Climate-Informed Watershed Restoration on the Elizabeth River

Location

23704 Portsmouth , VA
United States
36° 49' 38.9136" N, 76° 18' 41.8464" W
Virginia US
Summary: 

The Elizabeth River Project is practicing climate-informed restoration of the Elizabeth River and adjacent watersheds in Virginia. By taking sea level rise into consideration in its collaboratively developed Watershed Action Plan and restoration projects, as well as engaging significant stakeholders through community outreach and education, the project is improving the environmental health of the Elizabeth River.

Restoring Three Mile Creek via a Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan

Location

Mobile , AL
United States
30° 41' 53.1384" N, 88° 2' 37.4892" W
Alabama US
Summary: 

A comprehensive watershed management plan has been developed to help guide the restoration of Three Mile Creek, an urban watershed located near Mobile, Alabama. Three Mile Creek suffers significant non-point source pollution and sedimentation issues, and is also vulnerable to climate change impacts, including sea level rise and increasing storm surge.

San Diego River Coastal Sage Scrub Restoration Project: A Southern California Climate Change Adaptation Case Study

Location

San Diego River CA
United States
32° 46' 12.9432" N, 117° 9' 11.61" W
California US
Organization: 
Summary: 

Climate change may affect the ability to achieve on-the-ground project goals and objectives. The following case study demonstrates how climate change vulnerability and adaptation information can be integrated into existing and future habitat restoration projects to increase overall project resilience.

Climate resilience evaluation and awareness tool exercise with North Hudson Sewerage Authority and New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program

EPA’s Climate Ready Water Utilities (CRWU) and Climate Ready Estuaries (CRE) initiatives are working to coordinate their efforts and support climate change risk assessment and adaptation planning. This report details a recent exercise that provided an opportunity for these parties to collaborate on assessment and planning with respect to potential climate change impacts on utility infrastructure and natural resources. The Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool (CREAT) was used to support the collaborative process of identifying climate change threats, assessing potential consequences, and evaluating adaptation options for both a utility and for the overall watershed.

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: