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.

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest: Implementing a Comprehensive Approach to Climate Change Response

Location

United States
45° 40' 31.7352" N, 88° 40' 34.1292" W
US
Author Name(s): 
Maria Janowiak, Chris Swanston, Linda Parker
Summary: 

Forests are a characteristic feature in many parts the country, and this is particularly true in northern Wisconsin where a mosaic of public and private forestlands define the regional landscape. This case study describes the activities undertaken by the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and other landowners in northern Wisconsin through the Climate Change Response Framework (CCRF).

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.

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.

Southern California Climate Adaptation Project

Location

CA
United States
34° 21' 19.0908" N, 116° 54' 41.9544" W
California US
Summary: 

The Southern California Climate Adaptation Project was initiated to improve understanding about the vulnerability of important southern California habitats to climate change and to develop adaptation strategies designed to reduce vulnerabilities and/or increase resilience of habitats. This project used a collaborative, stakeholder-driven process that involved soliciting input from land and resource managers, conservation practitioners, scientists, and others from federal and state agencies, universities, and nongovernmental organizations.

Land Conservation in a Changing Climate: Stewardship Science and Financing

The purpose of the 2016 Berkley Workshop was to explore some of the ways that land conservation groups might best respond to our changing climate, with particular emphasis on the science and finance guiding and enabling the stewardship of natural areas.

Among the major themes were the following:

  • While increasing numbers of land trusts are incorporating the changing climate into their work, important issues arise around how useful traditional tools will be, as well as whether many land trusts have the capacity to engage in the more active management of conserved lands that is likely to be required.
  • There are many ways that the stewardship of conserved lands may help address aspects of climate change, from storing carbon to mitigating flooding or heat waves. Capturing those benefits will require more systematic efforts to demonstrate that natural areas can provide those services in ways that fit infrastructure owners' and investors' decision-making contexts and criteria.
  • Sources of funding for conservation projects with climate benefits continue to expand in number and quantity. However, the site specificity of such projects raises real questions about how the volume of replicable investment opportunities that large investors are seeking can best be generated from such projects.
  • In addition to science and finance, the participants felt it was also critically important to engage on the social aspects of these topics--in particular, the need to expand the range of human communities that benefit from the climate and other services provided by conserved lands. Meeting this need will require new collaborations among conservation organizations and others working on topics from renewable energy to climate justice.

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. 

Gulf South Rising 2015 - Final Report

Gulf South Rising was a regional movement of coordinated actions and events to highlight the impact of the global climate crisis on the Gulf South region. Through collaborative events and actions around strategic dates in 2015, Gulf South Rising demanded a just transition away from extractive industries, discriminatory policies, and unjust practices that hinder equitable recovery from disaster and impede the development of sustainable communities.

This year-long initiative

  1. built regional movement infrastructure;
  2. connected and convened frontline communities around collective healing and ecological equity;
  3. advanced regional efforts of indigenous tribal and land sovereignty and
  4. shifted the regional narrative from resilience to resistance.

The Gulf South Rising (GSR) Strategy Document was created through a five-year community process anchored by the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy using People’s Movement Assemblies (PMAs) as the method for community-based issue mapping and agenda setting. The PMA process allowed frontline community members of the Gulf South to collectively identify their own problems and vision their own solutions. Notes and decisions from five years of these PMAs across the region were synthesized into the Gulf South Rising strategy document. The Gulf South Rising Strategy Document principles for moving together, defined broad goals and specific objectives for the initiative, and structured collective regional actions around the 2015 calendar year.

The year 2015 was a movement year for the Gulf South and the Nation. Important “Movement Dates” included 50 years since the Selma March, 10 years since Hurricane Katrina, 5 years since the BP Deepwater Horizon Explosion, 40 years since the end of the Vietnam War, 50 years since the Voting Rights Act, and many more. Through shared work around these “Movement Dates” the Gulf South Rising initiative aimed to amplify the good work continuously being done in the Gulf South and connect authentic community across the region.

While crafted around commemorations. The Gulf South Rising initiative was strategically more than the sum of its parts. A regional collective of residents developed and supported leadership on the ground through the shared work of many of these commemorations. The GSR initiative created a culture of engagement and decision-making rooted in true democracy, trained local advocates on the intersection of climate change and social justice, and ensured that stories were told authentically by the people of the Gulf South. Gulf South Rising collectivized the 2015 movement energy in the region to support self-determination at the grassroots level for Gulf South communities. Participants in this 12-month initiative have determined that the Gulf South is Rising.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Climate Change Adaptation Plan (2014)

We live in a world in which the climate is changing at a rate faster than that which society has experienced in modern history. Because many of the environmental outcomes that EPA is working to attain (e.g., clean air, safe drinking water) are sensitive to changes in weather and climate, these changes are posing new challenges to EPA’s ability to fulfill its mission of protecting human health and the environment.

To address these challenges, EPA has developed a Climate Change Adaptation Plan. The Adaptation Plan relies on peerreviewed scientific information and expert judgment to begin to identify potential vulnerabilities to EPA’s mission from climate change. The Adaptation Plan also presents priority actions the Agency will take to integrate climate adaptation planning into its programs, policies, rules, and operations to ensure they are effective in a changing climate. EPA’s focus on climate adaptation is part of a larger federal effort to promote a healthy and prosperous nation that is resilient to a changing climate. EPA’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan provides a road map and commitment from the Agency to addressing the direction provided in the President’s Climate Action Plan, and Executive Order 13653, Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change.