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. 

Lagged social-ecological responses to climate and range shifts in fisheries

While previous research has documented marine fish and invertebrates shifting poleward in response to warming climates, less is known about the response of fisheries to these changes. By examining fisheries in the northeastern United States over the last four decades of warming temperatures, we show that northward shifts in species distributions were matched by corresponding northward shifts in fisheries. The proportion of warm-water species caught in most states also increased through time. Most importantly, however, fisheries shifted only 10–30 % as much as their target species, and evidence suggested that economic and regulatory constraints played important roles in creating these lags. These lags may lead to overfishing and population declines if not accounted for in fisheries management and climate adaptation. In coupled natural-human systems such as fisheries, human actions play important roles in determining the sustainability of the system and, therefore, future conservation and climate mitigation planning will need to consider not only biophysical changes, but also human responses to these changes and the feedbacks that these responses have on ecosystems.

Climate-Resilient Water Management: An Operational Framework from South Asia

The Action on Climate Today (ACT) programme has been actively working in five South Asian countries to help governments plan for, and manage, the impacts of climate change in the water sector. ACT has championed a Climate-Resilient Water Management (CRWM) approach as a way of increasing the resilience of water systems on which billions of people rely.

This learning paper outlines the core elements of the CRWM framework and provides examples from ACT’s work employing the framework across the region. The methodology has been deployed in South Asia, but will be of relevance to practitioners and policy makers working in water resource management around the world.


This framework is informed by these activities and within this water management interventions are sorted into three categories: 

  1.  Water resource management (including assessment, supply augmentation and demand management); 

  1.  Management of extreme events (floods and droughts); and, 

  1.  Creating an enabling environment for CRWM (including mainstreaming climate impacts in sectoral and cross-sectoral policies, among other governance instruments). 

A 60-second audio abstract can be accessed here.

Key Contacts 


Planning for an Equitable Los Angeles: A Guide to Shaping LA’s New Community Plans

This guide is a resource for community-based organizations (CBOs) and city residents to advance equitable development through active engagement in the City of Los Angeles community plan update process.

  • Part I Provides an overview of the community plan update process and offers key considerations for effective community engagement.
  • Part II Provides a toolkit of planning and policy tools to advance equitable development outcomes within these new community plans. These tools are organized according to five broad principles of equitable development.

This guide is non-exhaustive, and meant to spur thoughtful dialogue among engaged residents and organizations. Ultimately, it is the leadership and experiential knowledge of affected low-income communities that will drive an equitable community plan campaign. Specific strategies will be responsive to the unique circumstances and dynamics of each community plan area. This guide is intended to support that effort.

Building Resilience Through Family Planning and Adaptation Finance

A growing evidence base links women’s met needs for family planning with reduced human vulnerability to climate change and enhanced resilience in the face of climate change impacts. Yet to date, population and family planning have been largely left out of adaptation proposals and projects. This report highlights a number of multilateral funds that provide climate finance and identifies challenges and opportunities for the FP/RH community in justifying their proposed development interventions as adaptation interventions.

Can Payments for Ecosystem Services Contribute to Adaptation to Climate Change? Insights from a Watershed in Kenya

Climate change presents new challenges for the management of social-ecological systems and the ecosystem services they provide. Although the instrument of payments for ecosystem services (PES) has emerged as a promising tool to safeguard or enhance the provision of ecosystem services (ES), little attention has been paid to the potential role of PES in climate change adaptation. As an external stressor climate change has an impact on the social-ecological system in which PES takes place, including the various actors taking part in the PES scheme. Following a short description of the conceptual link between PES and adaptation to climate change, we provide practical insights into the relationship between PES and adaptation to climate change by presenting results from a case study of a rural watershed in Kenya. Drawing upon the results of a participatory vulnerability assessment among potential ecosystem service providers in Sasumua watershed north of Nairobi, we show that PES can play a role in enhancing adaptation to climate change by influencing certain elements of adaptive capacity and incentivizing adaptation measures. In addition, trade-offs and synergies between proposed measures under PES and adaptation to climate change are identified. Results show that although it may not be possible to establish PES schemes based on water utilities as the sole source of financing, embedding PES in a wider adaptation framework creates an opportunity for the development of watershed PES schemes in Africa and ensures their sustainability. We conclude that there is a need to embed PES in a wider institutional framework and that extra financial resources are needed to foster greater integration between PES and adaptation to climate change. This can be achieved through scaling up PES by bringing in other buyers and additional ecosystem services. PES can achieve important coadaptation benefits, but for more effective adaptation outcomes it needs to be combined with vulnerability assessments and climate scenarios to ensure that these are realized and potential trade-offs between PES measures and adaptation measures minimized.

Durham Community Climate Adaptation Plan

This document constitutes Durham’s Community Climate Adaptation Plan. It includes 18 proposed programs that have been approved in principle by Durham Regional Council on behalf of the Durham community on December 14, 2016. These program concepts have now been referred to a number of responsible agencies across Durham and beyond for further development, costing, approval and implementation. In addition to addressing its own responsibilities, the Regional government will monitor progress on behalf of the community. 


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