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. 

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.

Developing a Structured Decision-Making Model to Facilitate Adaptive Dam Management

Location

TN
United States
37° 5' 24.864" N, 95° 42' 46.4076" W
Tennessee US
Summary: 

Researchers at the Tennessee Cooperative Fishery Research Unit and Tennessee Tech are developing a structured decision-making model to guide adaptive dam management at the Tims Ford Dam on the Elk River in Tennessee. This model will help optimize dam operations to mitigate negative effects of cold reservoir water release on downstream native aquatic species and sport fish while maintaining human flood protection and hydropower generation opportunities.

Climate Resilience Toolkit

Tool Overview: 

Meet the Challenges of a Changing Climate -  Find information and tools to help you understand and address your climate risks.

CASE STUDIES

Explore case studies to see how people are building resilience for their businesses and in their communities. Click dots on the map below to preview case studies, or browse all case studies by clicking the button below the map.

PREPdata

Tool Overview: 

The Partnership

The PREP Partnership brings together stakeholders from the public, private and nonprofit sectors, including government agencies, leading technology companies and networks of climate preparedness practitioners. The Partnership supports the adaptation planning community by:

Time of Emergence

Location

United States
46° 14' 8.106" N, 121° 0' 38.6856" W
US
Tool Overview: 

This tool aims to support climate change risk assessment and decision-making by providing quick and readily accessible information about when and where climate change could matter across the Pacific Northwest. This is a new approach to delivery of climate change information that focuses on identifying the time when climate change causes local conditions to deviate significantly from the past, which we call the Time of Emergence of climate change.

Massachusetts Climate Action Tool

Location

MA
United States
42° 27' 45.5112" N, 72° 27' 30.5856" W
Massachusetts US
Tool Overview: 

The Massachusetts Wildlife Climate Action Tool is designed to inform and inspire local action to protect the Commonwealth’s natural resources in a changing climate. It was developed for local decision-makers, conservation practitioners, large landowners, and community leaders across the state. 

With this tool, you can:

Historical Climate Trends

Tool Overview: 

The Historical Climate Trends product provides a comparative seasonal or annual analysis for a specified climate division or state. Long term averages are taken from NCDC's monthly and annual temperature and rainfall datasets. These long term averages are depicted in each chart as a horizontal line in the middle of the chart. 5-year moving averages of seasonal (or annual) values are plotted in comparison to the long-term average as red or blue curves for temperature and green or brown curves for precipitation.

Adaptation Clearinghouse

Tool Overview: 

The Adaptation Clearinghouse seeks to assist policymakers, resource managers, academics, and others who are working to help communities adapt to climate change.

Content in the Adaptation Clearinghouse is focused on the resources that help policymakers at all levels of governments reduce or avoid the impacts of climate change to communities in the United States. The Adaptation Clearinghouse tends to focus on climate change impacts that adversely affect people and our built environment.  

Elephant Builder

Tool Overview: 

The Elephant Builder system-mapping process helps policymakers, scientists, and citizens integrate their very different expertise into a shared map of the effects of climate change and discover novel adaptation solutions. Policy-makers, domain experts, and members of underrepresented groups—addresses a series of concrete questions tailored to their own expertise.