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. 

The State of Climate-­Informed Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning

Coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP) is a science-based, collaborative process used to sustainably manage resources, interests, and activities among diverse coastal and ocean users and sectors. Climate change is affecting marine and coastal ecosystems throughout the world, manifesting in warming air and sea temperatures, increasing coastal storms, and rising sea levels. The existing and projected impacts of climate change and ocean acidification need to be incorporated into planning processes to ensure long-term success. Because CMSP is an emerging field, it is important to look to other coastal and marine planning and management frameworks to identify opportunities for climate-informed action.

With the support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, EcoAdapt created the Climate-Informed CMSP Initiative to examine the connections between climate change and coastal and marine planning. This included conducting a needs assessment survey to identify what practitioners need in order to integrate climate change into their planning efforts, as well as research into the state of climate-informed CMSP efforts with the intention of identifying case study examples of adaptation in action. Our key research questions included:

  1. How is climate change currently being integrated into CMSP-related efforts?
  2. How can climate-informed CMSP be done?
  3. What do practitioners need in order to integrate climate change into CMSP?

Alaska Regional Action Plan for the Southeastern Bering Sea

The Alaska Regional Action Plan (ARAP) for the southeastern Bering Sea  conforms to a nationally consistent blueprint, the NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy. The Strategy guides efforts by NOAA Fisheries and its partners to address information needs organized into seven science objectives that represent the process of managing the Nation’s fisheries in the face of changing climate conditions. The goal of the ARAP is to increase the production, delivery and use of climate related information for marine resource management in the region. The ARAP identifies strengths, weaknesses, priorities, and actions to implement the NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy in Alaska over the next 3-5 years, and contributes to implementation of the Strategy by focusing on building regional capacity and partnerships to address the Strategy’s seven science objectives. Successful implementation of the ARAP will require enhanced collaboration with our academic and agency partners.

NOAA's Ocean Climate Change Web Portal

Location

United States
33° 1' 1.3152" N, 123° 15' 13.0212" W
US
Tool Overview: 

 The NOAA/ESRL Physical Sciences Division (PSD) conducts weather and climate research to observe and understand Earth's physical environment, and to improve weather and climate predictions on global-to-local scales. This is an experimental web tool designed to explore changes projected in the oceans by coupled climate models' CMIP5 experiments (historical, RCP8.5 and RCP4.5).

NatureServe Vista

Location

United States
44° 23' 22.2324" N, 99° 23' 32.2872" W
US
Tool Overview: 

NatureServe Vista® is a free, ArcGIS extension that automates advanced spatial analyses for planners and managers. It is a highly capable decision-support system that helps users integrate conservation with many types of planning, ecosystem based management, ecosystem based adaptation, and scenario-based planning.

Coastal Adaptation Strategies: Case Studies

Innovative and unique solutions are being devised throughout the national park system to adapt to climate change in coastal parks. The 24 case studies in this document describe efforts at national park units in a variety of settings to prepare for and respond to climate change impacts that can take the form of either an event or a trend. Examples of these impacts include increased storminess, sea level rise, shoreline erosion, melting sea ice and permafrost, ocean acidification, warming temperatures, groundwater inundation, precipitation, and drought. The adaptation efforts described here include historic structure preservation, archeological surveys, baseline data collection and documentation, habitat restoration, engineering solutions, redesign and relocation of infrastructure, and development of broad management plans that consider climate change. Each case study also includes a point of contact for park managers to request additional information and insight.

These case studies initially were developed by park managers as part of a NPS-led coastal adaptation to climate change training hosted by Western Carolina University in May 2012. The case studies format follows the format created for EcoAdapt’s Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE) database that identified a list of adaptation strategies. All case studies were updated and modified in September 2013 and March 2015 in response to a growing number of requests from coastal parks and other coastal management agencies looking for examples of climate change adaptation strategies for natural and cultural resources and assets along their ocean, lacustrine, and riverine coasts. 

Collecting Baseline Biological and Geologic Data to Understand Coastal Change at the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve and Cape Krusenstern National Monument, Alaska

Location

United States
66° 5' 10.6908" N, 164° 36' 9.5796" W
US
Author Name(s): 
Tahzay Jones
Summary: 

Climate change impacts, including coastal erosion, reduction in sea ice, and thawing of permafrost, are impacting Bering Land Bridge National Preserve (BELA) and Cape Krusenstern National Monument (CAKR) along the northwestern Alaska coast. The parks need baseline information and an updated evaluation of coastal resource vulnerabilities in order to make prudent management decisions related to increased marine traffic, sensitive areas, and natural and cultural resource protection. 

Cultural Resources Inventory and Vulnerability Assessment at the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Alaska and Cape Krusenstern National Monument, Alaska

Location

United States
67° 7' 41.0016" N, 163° 44' 43.0008" W
US
Author Name(s): 
Dael Devenport, Frank Hays
Summary: 

Climate change has increased the vulnerability of cultural resources in coastal locations at Bering Land Bridge National Preserve and Cape Krusenstern National Monument along the northwestern Alaska coast. The Alaska Regional Office is developing and testing a GIS model that is intended to predict locations and vulnerability of these cultural resources. 

North of the Arctic Circle, the monument forms 70 miles of shoreline on the Chukchi Sea.  More than 114 beach ridges provide evidence of human use for 5,000 years.  The Inupiat continue to use the area today.  Vast wetlands provide habitat for shorebirds from as far away as South America.  Hikers and boaters can see carpets of wildflowers among shrubs containing wisps of qiviut from muskoxen.

Explore a dynamic wilderness dotted with hot springs, ancient lava flows, and the largest maar lakes in the world. Ramble across tundra seeking muskox, caribou, and signs of ice age life. The Bering Land Bridge provided a pathway for plants, animals, and people to cross from old world to new. Today local residents use this land just as their ancestors have for generations.