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. 

Fish, Fisheries, and Water Resources: Adapting to Ontario’s Changing Climate

Location

United States
48° 54' 11.6856" N, 84° 48' 52.0308" W
US
Summary: 

This integrated research project, which ran from 2007-2008, was initiated to better understand the implications of projected climate change impacts and adaptation responses on southern Ontario’s fish, fisheries, and water resources. Climate change will have predominantly negative effects on species and habitats, and resulting economic effects are expected to be devastating to the region. In addition, changes in temperature and precipitation patterns will require alterations to water resources planning and management.

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.

Rapid Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Strategies for the National Marine Sanctuary and Territory of American Samoa

This report summarizes the results of a rapid vulnerability assessment (July 2016) and adaptation strategy planning (September 2016) workshops for 10 focal resources in the Territory and National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa by engaging with stakeholders, including village leaders, community members, resource managers, local government representatives, and business owners that rely on the resources with the goal of increasing climate resilience in the region. 

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?

Gulf of Mexico Regional Action Plan

The Gulf of Mexico Regional Action Plan identifies 62 actions to advance the NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy at current funding and staffing levels, and others that could be accomplished with additional resources. These actions are broadly consistent with activities currently underway at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center and the Southeast Regional Office, but will require greater integration with these offices along with greater collaboration with other NOAA regional experts, such as the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, and other partners throughout the region.

 

Aquaculture in Shared Waters

Location

Gulf of Maine
United States
42° 43' 31.1736" N, 67° 53' 43.8288" W
US
Organization: 
Summary: 

Climatic and non-climatic factors are affecting fisheries in the Gulf of Maine. Unfortunately, many fishermen currently rely on a single-species fishery – the American lobster – and do not have the ability to switch from one fishery to another due to allocations and limited permits.

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.

Effect of Climate Change on Highly Migratory Tunas and Billfishes in the Gulf of Mexico

Location

Gulf of Mexico
United States
25° 13' 4.7532" N, 90° 2' 38.202" W
US
Author Name(s): 
Mitchell Roffer
Summary: 

The project focuses on enhancing the management of multiple important highly migratory pelagic fish species in the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding waters, with particular focus on Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) and other highly migratory tunas and billfishes in the Gulf of Mexico area for spawning and larvae, and the north Atlantic Ocean including the Gulf of Mexico for adult species. Our team developed an innovative spawning habitat model for Atlantic bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico in collaboration with NOAA Fisheries in a previous study.