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. 

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. 

Using climate science to plan for sustainable use of the Great Barrier Reef


United States
27° 56' 25.5372" S, 155° 12' 53.4384" E

The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Marine Park Zoning Plan is the primary planning vehicle for conservation and management of the GBR Marine Park. Management is shared between the Australian and Queensland governments, and day-to-day operations are overseen by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. The Zoning Plan aims to protect and conserve the biodiversity of the GBR ecosystem within a network of highly protected zones and provide opportunities for the ecologically sustainable use of, and access to, the reef.

The Climate Around Climate Change on Florida’s Reefs: In Action or Inaction?

This project seeks to evaluate the success and degree of implementation of the Climate Change Action Plan for the Florida Reef System 2010-2015 (referenced hereafter as Action Plan, and cited as CCAPFRS). This Action Plan identifies interdisciplinary actions to be incorporated into reef management plans in order to address a myriad of climatic and non-climatic stressors to the reef system, minimize risks to coral reef dependent people and industries, and target scientific research priorities for strategic management.

As we are now in the final year of the Action Plan, the status and degree of implementation of the plan’s 40 recommendations has been unknown until now. A qualitative evaluation was designed due to a lack of monitoring, established benchmarks, and specific measures in the plan. Through stakeholder interviews, surveys, and independent Internet research this project assessed to what degree the recommended actions had been implemented and developed a scorecard to consolidate information on management strategies underway that contribute to the general success of the Action Plan. The scorecard enhances communication among stakeholder groups and various governmental and state agencies regarding collective progress, and serves as a blueprint for a subsequent plan moving forward. This review process demonstrated the great benefits and value of monitoring and evaluation of action plans with application worldwide.

Overall, it was found the plan is in a fairly good degree of implementation, with 80% of the plan’s 40 action items addressed to some degree. The most success was found in research goals, and the area most in need regards fisheries management. Some priorities changed over time. There has been a strong monitoring and reporting network built in the region, with several programs utilizing “eyes and ears on the water”. The capacity to respond and monitor coral bleaching events has also greatly increased.

Towards Reef Resilience and Sustainable Livelihoods: A Handbook for Caribbean Reef Managers

This handbook aims to provide reef managers with tools, information and recommendations on management of coral reef ecosystems. The handbook sections range from ecological history and biogeography, resilience as well as climate change issues to fisheries, governance and the monitoring of coral reef ecosystems.

Within each section are practical stand-alone ‘briefs’. These briefs offer concise information on particular reef-related issues, utilising some of the most recent scientific research to inform management actions. Each of the briefings is a unique grab-and-go resource. The accessible format also provides a useful resource for students, researchers, policy-makers and anyone interested in the future of Caribbean coral reefs.

Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Adaptation

Presentation from the International Workshop on Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change: From Practice to Policy on May 11-12, New Delhi by Dr. Pushpam Kumar of the Institute of Economic Growth.

This presentation highlights why biodiversity loss and unsustainable use of ecosystems services affects and will continue to affect human well-being. The author surmises by stating that ecosystems management and biodiversity conservation have strong bearing on the success of adaptation strategies.

The Honolulu Declaration on Ocean Acidification and Reef Management

The growing threat of climate change combined with escalating anthropogenic stressors on coral reefs requires a response that is both proactive and adaptive. To respond to this challenge, The Nature Conservancy convened a group of global ocean experts in Honolulu, Hawaii from August 12-14, 2008. The workshop participants included oceanographers, climate experts, marine scientists, and coral reef managers from around the world. The declaration identifies two major strategies that must be implemented urgently and concurrently to mitigate the impacts of climate change and to safeguard the value of coral reef systems: 1) limit fossil fuel emissions; 2) build the resilience of tropical marine ecosystems and communities to maximize their ability to resist and recover from climate change impacts.

The Reef Resilience Network connects marine managers with resources, experts, peers, and skill-building opportunities to improve restoration and accelerate conservation of coral reefs and reef fisheries around the world.

Great Barrier Reef Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan 2012-2017

The evidence of coral reef vulnerability and the predictions of climate change underpin the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2009 conclusion that climate change is the dominant threat to the future of the Reef. This document outlines our strategy to address these challenges, and sets out our plan for action over the next five years. It builds on the strong foundations laid by our pioneering work under the Great Barrier Reef Climate Change Action Plan (2007–2012). We are proud of our efforts in tackling the climate change challenge for the Great Barrier Reef, but there is still much work to be done to secure the future for the Reef. The Great Barrier Reef Climate Change Adaptation Strategy outlines our vision for ongoing efforts to help the Reef, its industries and its communities adjust to a changing climate. Through the Great Barrier Reef Climate Change Action Plan (2012–2017) the Australian Government is committing to a program of activity that will improve the outlook for the Reef.