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 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.

A Three-Step Decision Support Framework for Climate Adaptation: Selecting Climate-Informed Conservation Goals and Strategies for Native Salmonids in the Northern U.S. Rockies

The impact of climate change on cold-water ecosystems—and the cold-adapted native salmonids present in these systems—is the subject of a substantial body of research.. Recently, scientists have developed a number of datasets and analyses that provide insight into projections of climate change e ects on native salmonid populations in the northern U.S. Rockies region. Alongside this research, a number of management options for helping native salmonids respond to the e ects of climate change—also known as ‘climate adaptation’ strategies and actions—have been identi ed by scientists and managers in the region. These analyses and climate adaptation options o er valuable information to managers charged with making di cult decisions about where and how to best conserve and restore the region’s native salmonids given the challenges posed by shifting climatic conditions. Yet managers in the region continue to identify challenges in applying available information on climate change impacts, particularly in determining forward-looking conservation goals and selecting appropriate actions from the long menu of available climate adaptation options.

 

To augment this research and compilation of climate-informed management options, we have developed a decision support framework aimed at helping managers think critically about how to apply climate information to their management decisions. Speci cally, our framework is meant to help managers:

1) articulate an appropriate conservation goal for cold-adapted native salmonid populations taking into account the impacts of climate change on habitat suitability, threats from non-native sh, and connectivity;

2) consider the climate adaptation strategies that might best support that goal; and

3) identify actions that are available to implement the chosen strategies.

Given the complexity and uncertainty of conserving cold-adapted species in an era of rapid climate change and the limited resources available for conservation, choices about where to invest conservation dollars require defensible and transparent decision making. The three-step decision framework we provide here is meant to be a starting point to help managers document how they have incorporated information on climate change into their management decisions and prioritization of limited resources. The process used to develop the framework for native salmonids can be used to tailor decision support for additional conservation targets of interest. Ultimately, managers can integrate this climate change thinking into existing conservation strategies and management plans, alongside the myriad other regulatory, social, economic and locally-driven factors and mandates that in uence management decisions.

Bering Sea Climate Change Study

Location

Bering Sea
United States
56° 51' 53.0604" N, 177° 27' 4.2192" W
US
Summary: 

Researchers from the NOAA Fisheries Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, and the University of Washington’s Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, are creating downscaled climate models to estimate future abundance of fish stocks in the Bering Sea. By combining physical oceanography, fisheries science, and climate projections, researchers hope to develop climate and fishing scenarios that can facilitate climate-informed fisheries management in the region.

Northeast Fisheries Climate Vulnerability Assessment

Location

Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem
United States
41° 3' 25.5276" N, 68° 30' 38.6712" W
US
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.

Global Marine Hotspots Network

Location

Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
15-21 Nubeena Cres
7053 Taroona
Australia
42° 57' 1.3356" S, 147° 21' 16.5528" E
AU
Summary: 

The Global Marine Hotspots Network was created because the oceans are not warming evenly and those areas that are warming the fastest – ocean warming ‘hotspots’ – can be considered as the world’s natural laboratories to provide the knowledge and tools to enable us to adapt wisely, efficiently, and effectively to meet the challenges of a warming environment. The Network was designed to better understand the impacts of climate change on commercial fisheries, which support coastal communities and global industries.

Increasing Resilience Through NOAA Fisheries’ Regional Action Plans

Location

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1401 Constitution Avenue NW Room 5128
20230 Washington, DC
United States
38° 53' 34.5336" N, 77° 1' 57.5652" W
US
Summary: 

NOAA Fisheries along with stakeholders, fishery management councils, fisheries organizations, and tribes are developing Regional Action Plans (RAPs) to prepare for and respond to climate impacts on marine and coastal resources. The objective of the RAPs is to develop regional implementation guidance of the seven objectives outlined in the 2015 NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy for each region – Alaska, West Coast, Greater Atlantic, Pacific Islands, and Southeast and Caribbean – and to increase the production and use of information to support climate-informed fisheries management.

Atlantis Ecosystem Modeling in Golden Bays, Tasman and Chatham Rise Regions

Location

Golden Bay and Tasman Bay
New Zealand
40° 49' 9.7068" S, 173° 10' 48.8532" E
NZ
Summary: 

Effective species management requires an understanding of species’ response to changing conditions. The Atlantis model, used by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, explores ecosystems to consider impacts of multiple factors. It is currently being used to consider fisheries, climate change, the impacts of pollutants, and habitat damage due to fishing and mining. While Atlantis has been used around the world, this project is focused on effectively modeling the Tasman and Golden Bays region, as well as Chatham Rise.

State of the Climate in 2015

An international, peer-reviewed publication released each summer, the State of the Climate is the authoritative annual summary of the global climate published as a supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The report, compiled by NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate at the National Centers for Environmental Information is based on contributions from scientists from around the world. It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments located on land, water, ice, and in space.

State of the Climate in 2015

This is the 26th edition of the annual assessment now known as State of the Climate. The year 2015 saw the toppling of several symbolic mileposts: notably, it was 1.0°C warmer than preindustrial times, and the Mauna Loa observatory recorded its first annual mean carbon dioxide concentration greater than 400 ppm. Beyond these more recognizable markers, trends seen in recent decades continued.

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).