Northeast Fisheries Climate Vulnerability Assessment

Alessandra Score
Posted on: 9/28/2016 - Updated on: 12/13/2023

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Project Summary

Given the complex life histories, attributes, and environmental interdependencies of marine fish species, decision makers are in need of scientifically-based information on the relative vulnerability of fish species to expected changes in climatic and oceanic conditions. This project applied the NOAA Fisheries Fish Species Climate Vulnerability Assessment Methodology to examine 82 species within the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem. NOAA’s Office of Atmospheric Research the University of Colorado’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science (CIRES) provided climate projections of how the marine environment is forecast to change in the 21st century.

The 82 fish and invertebrate species evaluated include those of ecological, commercial, and recreational importance, as well as species listed under the Endangered Species Act. Each species was evaluated and ranked in one of four vulnerability categories – low, moderate, high, and very high – using rigorous evaluation criteria, existing knowledge base on the species, and subject matter expertise. The study provides insight on the species types most vulnerable to changing conditions based on distribution and life histories. Species that migrate between fresh and salt water (e.g., sturgeon, salmon), and those that live on the sea floor (e.g., scallops, lobsters) are the most vulnerable to climate effects in the region. Species that live closer to the surface (e.g., herring, mackerel) are the least vulnerable. It also found that species categorized as generalists are less vulnerable to climate change than those categorized as specialists. 



Score, A. 2016b. Northeast Fisheries Climate Vulnerability Assessment. Summary of a project from NOAA Fisheries produced for EcoAdapt’s State of Adaptation Program. Last updated August 2016.

Project Contact

Jon Hare
Science & Research Director
[email protected]

Affiliated Organizations

The Northeast Fisheries Science Center is the research arm of NOAA Fisheries in the region.