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. 

Multisolving at the Intersection of Health and Climate: Lessons from Success Stories

With a multisolving approach to addressing health and climate challenges, people are designing the communities that they want to live in while at the same time preventing and preparing for climate change. For many of the projects, the system-wide benefits exceeded the costs. And the projects tended to create benefits, from more children walking to school, to a better patient experience, to increased opportunities for recreation, that were appreciated in the organizations and communities where the projects happened.

The study identified the following success factors that were common themes across the case studies:

  • Leadership shown by individual or organizational champions of projects
  • Cyclical learning and growth in partnerships over time
  • Strong engagement and communication with partners, collaborators, and the communities being served by the project
  • Measuring and communicating the multiple benefits of the project
  • Including a strong financial plan or a low-cost project design
  • Anticipating and confronting resistance to change

Climate Change and Public Health Preparation Plan | Multnomah County

Climate change has serious and far-reaching health implications for present and future generations. A team of international scientists recently described these challenges in The Lancet as “the biggest global health threat of the 21st century” (Lancet 2009).

Even if there is local and global action to immediately reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, we will likely feel the impacts from the current build up of emissions in the atmosphere for decades. These impacts, such as hotter summers and wetter, warmer winters for the Pacific Northwest, will likely affect our health, especially those most vulnerable. Communities must, therefore, begin to plan and prepare for the likely impacts that will be experienced because of the emissions already present in the atmosphere.

The Multnomah County/City of Portland Climate Action Plan identified “Climate Change Preparation” as one of its eight key action areas with the objective to “adapt successfully to a changing climate”. Adaptation means “to adjust to a new situation or environment” such as an increase in consecutive days over 95 degrees. This public health plan is a part of broader ongoing efforts by the City of Portland and Multnomah County to make our infrastructure, our natural environment, and our society more resilient to climate change. This plan communicates why we as a community, as policymakers and as public health professionals should care about climate change; what the local impacts may be; which populations and areas may be impacted; why equity and justice are key parts of this work; and what we can do to further prevent health issues and disparities.

Climate and Health Adaptation Plan | Crook County Health Department

The Crook County Health Department Climate and Health Action Plan was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Climate-Ready States and Cities Initiative which was assigned to assist 16 states and 2 cities develop ways to anticipate health effects by applying climate science, predicting health impacts, and preparing flexible programs. The grant was administered by the Oregon Health Authority and the project ran from August 2011 through August 2013.

This grant opportunity was meant to enhance the ability of public health to engage in this important work. The Crook County Climate Health Action Plan developed by Public Health will:

  • Develop strategies for public health staff to be a source of leadership, expertise, and guidance concerning sustainable development in Crook County;
  • Raise awareness in Crook County as to the important responsibilities of, and actions regarding sustainable development and climate change; and
  • Help shape local policy promoting sustainable development, with strategies to mitigate climate change for Crook County.

Climate and Health Action Plan | Jackson County Public Health

Jackson County Health & Human Services (JCHHS) is ideally suited to coordinate and plan local adaptation strategies relating to the health impacts from climate change. The climate issue is a global problem, but responses may be ideally dealt with at a local level. Much of what we do as a county health department is appropriate to the monitoring, assessment, and response to the health effects from climate change. Surveillance of communicable diseases and outbreaks, public health emergency preparedness planning, and environmental health messaging and oversight are core functions of Public Health.

This plan was an outgrowth of JCHHS’s role in a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) project from July 2011 to August 2013, using the Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) framework. This project was designed to help states, cities and county health departments investigate, prepare for, and respond to the health effects that climate change may have on people.

Public Health staff and managers worked with external advisors and stakeholders to define the projected climate outlook for Jackson County Oregon at mid-century. Engaged advisors came from public and non-profit agencies, scientists, local business, and interest groups. Adaptation interventions and actions were jointly developed with input from multiple sources to insure appropriateness to the local social, economic, and political milieu.

Climate Adaptation Plan | North Central Public Health District

NCPHD staff determined which climate factors might already be addressed via other public health programs and local emergency management plans, and which factors would likely need more attention. Drought seemed the most likely factor that is currently not focused on by public health, and due to its chronic nature, not as well addressed via emergency management lens. So for now, NCPHD will focus on building community resiliency to address the many possible public health sequela of drought. Climate health will be rolled into the All Hazard Response plan cycle so that the NCPHD Climate Action Planning Team may revise the priorities and adaptation strategies to align with new climate and health discoveries and new insights provided by climate health scientists.