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. 

Integrating Climate Change into Plan Revisions at El Yunque National Forest

Location

El Yunque National Forest Rio Grande
Puerto Rico
18° 19' 8.634" N, 65° 47' 34.7964" W
PR
Summary: 

In 2012, the U.S. Forest Service released a Planning Rule requiring the integration of climate change impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation into revisions of forest management plans. The El Yunque National Forest began the forest plan revision process in 2014. A draft plan to guide forest resource management was released in September 2016; the final plan is expected to go into effect in 2018.

A Climate-Informed Update of Virginia’s State Wildlife Action Plan

Location

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

To better understand and address climate change in its 2015 State Wildlife Action Plan update, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VA DGIF) applied downscaled climate change modeling in a vulnerability assessment for 20 different species.

Planning for Change in Chatham County, Georgia

Location

GA
United States
32° 5' 24.0684" N, 81° 6' 11.2824" W
Georgia US
Summary: 

Chatham County is vulnerable to sea level rise, flooding, and erosion. Increasing the ability of the county to adequately prepare for and recover from the impacts of climate change are important goals of the Chatham County – Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission. These goals have expanded into ensuring that all areas of the county are preparing for climate change, including public works, fire departments, hospitals, board of educators, and county engineers.

Climate Change Adaptation Strategies for Resources of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests

This report summarizes the results of a two-day adaptation planning workshop for the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests as part of their forest plan revision process. The workshop focused on identifying adaptation options for eight key resource areas, including forested vegetation, non-forested vegetation, wildlife, hydrology, fisheries, recreation, cultural/heritage values, and ecosystem services. The report includes a general overview of the workshop methodology and provides a suite of possible adaptation strategies and actions for each key resource area. Adaptation actions were linked with the climate-related vulnerabilities they help to ameliorate as well as the direct/indirect effects they may have on other resource areas.

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.

The Washington-British Columbia Transboundary Climate Connectivity Project: Climate impacts and adaptation actions for wildlife habitat connectivity in the transboundary region of Washington and British Columbia

The Washington-British Columbia Transboundary Climate-Connectivity Project was initiated to help address these challenges. The region spanning the border of Washington state, USA, and British Columbia, Canada, faces increasing development pressure and limited transboundary coordination of land and wildlife management, both of which may threaten habitat connectivity and limit the potential for wildlife movement in response to change. In addition, the effects of climate change may further reduce habitat connectivity, and species may need novel types of habitat connectivity to complete adaptive range shifts. This project paired scientists and practitioners from both sides of the border to collaboratively identify potential climate impacts and adaptation actions for transboundary habitat connectivity, using a diverse suite of case study species, a vegetation system, and a region.

Case study assessments revealed that climate change is likely to have significant implications for transboundary habitat connectivity. The adaptation actions identified to address potential impacts varied by case study, but fell into two general categories: those addressing potential climate impacts on existing habitat connectivity and those addressing novel habitat connectivity needs for climate-induced shifts in species ranges. In addition, project partners identified priority spatial locations for implementing these actions, as well as additional research needed to improve assessment of climate impacts and adaptation actions for habitat connectivity.

Coastal Adaptation Strategies: Case Studies

Innovative and unique solutions are being devised throughout the national park system to adapt to climate change in coastal parks. The 24 case studies in this document describe efforts at national park units in a variety of settings to prepare for and respond to climate change impacts that can take the form of either an event or a trend. Examples of these impacts include increased storminess, sea level rise, shoreline erosion, melting sea ice and permafrost, ocean acidification, warming temperatures, groundwater inundation, precipitation, and drought. The adaptation efforts described here include historic structure preservation, archeological surveys, baseline data collection and documentation, habitat restoration, engineering solutions, redesign and relocation of infrastructure, and development of broad management plans that consider climate change. Each case study also includes a point of contact for park managers to request additional information and insight.

These case studies initially were developed by park managers as part of a NPS-led coastal adaptation to climate change training hosted by Western Carolina University in May 2012. The case studies format follows the format created for EcoAdapt’s Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE) database that identified a list of adaptation strategies. All case studies were updated and modified in September 2013 and March 2015 in response to a growing number of requests from coastal parks and other coastal management agencies looking for examples of climate change adaptation strategies for natural and cultural resources and assets along their ocean, lacustrine, and riverine coasts. 

Large-Scale Restoration of Barrier Island Systems and Cultural Resource Protection through Sediment Placement, Gulf Islands National Seashore, Mississippi

Location

United States
30° 12' 40.5396" N, 88° 57' 24.066" W
US
Author Name(s): 
Larissa Read
Summary: 

The large-scale project known as the Mississippi Coastal Improvements Program (MsCIP) is intended to restore multiple barrier islands and protect cultural resources within Gulf Islands National Seashore by recreating sediment transport processes and replacing a portion of sediment lost to dredging and storm impacts.