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. 

Climate Resilient Infrastructure Services in Visakhapatnam and Panaji, India

Location

Panaji , GA
India
15° 29' 27.348" N, 73° 49' 40.26" E
Goa IN
Summary: 

Coastal areas face multiple risks related to climate change and variability. The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report identified several highly urbanized, low-lying deltas of Asia and Africa as particularly vulnerable to climate-related impacts.

Napa River Watershed Flood Protection and Enhancement Project

Location

Napa , CA
United States
38° 17' 51.1368" N, 122° 17' 12.714" W
California US
Summary: 

Seasonal flooding along the Napa River is a regular occurrence, and records indicate there have been at least 22 serious floods on the river since 1865. In 1998, Napa County voters passed a measure for the Napa River Flood Protection Project (NRFPP), which works to achieve 100-year flood protection while supporting living river principles (e.g., reconnecting the river to its historic floodplain, retain natural channel features).

City of Benicia Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan

Location

94510 Benicia , CA
United States
38° 2' 57.714" N, 122° 9' 30.8808" W
California US
Summary: 

Benicia is a waterfront community in the San Francisco Bay Area. The city is home to a thriving arts community, beautiful weather and scenic vistas, a downtown full of charming boutiques and antique shops, and an industrial park and port that provide jobs to Benicia residents. However, all of this is threatened by the impacts of future climate change. Sea level rise, storm surge, and extreme temperatures are projected to increase significantly over the coming decades.

Adapting to Climate Change in California

Many aspects of the Californian approach to controlling the greenhouse gases that cause climate change now have a sufficient track record to provide potential models or lessons for national and even international action. In comparison, the state's efforts on climate change adaptation, although multifaceted, are less well developed and thus far have focused largely on information sharing, impact assessments, and planning. Still, adaptation could advance more quickly in California than in many other regions, given relatively high public awareness and concern, extensive scientific information, a strong tradition of local and regional planning, and some enabling policies and institutions. Much more political support and sufficient financing will have to be mustered at state and local levels to enable new projects and initiatives to cope with sea level rise, water management, and ecosystem adaptation, not to mention public health and other key areas of concern. Even so, California's initial efforts to adapt to unavoidable changes in climate may offer insights for other governments that will, inevitably, need to fashion their own adaptation strategies.

Town of Guilford Community Coastal Resilience Plan

Coastal resilience is the ability to resist, absorb, recover from, and adapt to coastal hazards such as daily  inundation caused by sea level rise, increased flooding, and more frequent and intense storm surges. The residents of Guilford recognized the risks associated with occupying coastal areas prior to Tropical Storm Irene and storm Sandy, but these recent events have underscored the fact that property owners and the town bear a heavy financial burden to recover from these types of events. The Town of Guildford has developed this Community Coastal Resilience Plan as a toolbox to build coastal resilience in the coming years.

Climate Risk Study for Telecommunications and Data Center Services

An increasing trend towards consolidation and sharing of infrastructure in the US telecommunications sector is increasing vulnerability to climate risks, according to a new report funded by the US General Services Administration (GSA). 

The finding comes as part of a wider study into climate risks affecting the world’s largest telecommunications market. Driven in part by recent legislation, the drive towards cost efficiency and expanding overall coverage has led telecoms companies to pool infrastructure resources. This resource sharing reduces ‘redundancy’ in the telecoms sector, increasing sensitivity to climate risks.

‘Redundancy’ is extra capacity in the network which makes the operations less efficient (as there is extra infrastructure assets that are not being used to full capacity), but increases resilience to external shocks like those from climate change (as spare capacity can compensate if some parts of the network fails). 

Recent legislation allows companies to share telecommunications and data centre infrastructure and the government has also begun plans to consolidate data centres. At the same time, US federal government bodies have done much work to understand and begin to address climate change risks to essential operations and services. 

"We're seeing the US government expect more from the private sector vendors which provide telecommunications and data centers services. It's not just about quality and cost of service anymore - it's also about how resilient those services are to climate change and extreme weather." Said Peter Adams, one of the lead authors of the report and Climate Risk Consultant at Acclimatise.

The inherent tension between increasing efficiencies of services while maintaining resilience is a challenge that is replicated across all sectors, companies and societies. Successfully walking the tightrope will be crucial to providing stable services that are also cost-effective.

Getting the balance right is particularly important for crucial sectors such as communications. Such sectors not only make large contributions to the economy in their own right, but also allow other businesses and sectors to function smoothly. Climate change impacts affecting telecommunications infrastructure will likely have knock-on effects across the wider economy.

The Climate Risks Study for Telecommunications & Data Centre Services study - produced for the GSA by Riverside Technology Inc. and Acclimatise - investigates how climate change will impact the sector.

The report looks not only at the headline-grabbing impacts of extreme weather events, such as those incurred by Hurricane Sandy, but also the risks brought on by slow-onset, gradual changes to the base climate.

Supply-chain risks

Another key finding of the report is that the climate risks to telecommunications infrastructure are far better understood than those to the supply chains that support them:

“While climate risks to such vital supply chain inputs as electricity appear significant… the small but growing literature on telecommunications and data centre climate risks focuses on infrastructure to the near exclusion of enterprise supply chains” the report warns. 

Closing the knowledge gap will be vital to get a full picture of the exposure of the sector to climate change risks. 

Recommendations

  • The report makes several recommendations to help better understand and manage climate risks to the sector, these include:
  • Frame climate risks as business risks using the language of business, not science, and contextualising climate risk from the perspective of private sector companies, their customers, investors, and regulators.
  • Plan for both a changing climate baseline and for climate extremes. Successfully addressing climate risk requires careful attention to subtle impacts (e.g., the cumulative impact of increasing sequences of warmer than average days on wired telecommunications) as well as to the effects of extreme weather and storms. 
  • Build awareness of climate risks before disasters strike. Working with stakeholders to build consensus and collect the information each offers is necessary to effectively build resilience. 
  • Conduct direct consultations with the private sector to understand their needs, strengths, and weaknesses, as these stakeholders know the business, sites, and technologies best and can help build understanding of what would happen under likely climate scenarios. 
  • Thoroughly assess climate risk of both telecoms and data centre sectors, informed by consultations with experts and stakeholders. This will allow for the prioritisation of risks to both sectors according to their relative consequence and likelihood. 
  • Require federal service providers to demonstrate climate resilience in all procurement processes, with suppliers required to undertake a climate risk assessment and demonstrate how their products and services will continue to meet required contractual and serviceability performance standards. 
  • Elucidate, test, and document adaptation options as value protection strategies in both sectors, as many of these strategies and fixes remain prescriptive, undetailed, and/or untested. 
  • Assess operating headrooms for key assets in both sectors to understand the functional thresholds for critical assets in a changing climate, which will assist in identifying and prioritising risks, planning operational maintenance, and informing future capital expenditures. 
  • Assess both sectors within the context of their asset lifetimes, with climate risk assessments scaled to the life cycles of assets and equipment. Though lifetimes are short, assets must be robust during their useful lives. 
  • Include telecoms and data centres in the fourth National Climate Assessment, alongside other key sectors already represented. 
  • Provide guidance on SEC material risk disclosure. 

Keene, New Hampshire Climate Adaptation Action Plan Summary Report

The City of Keene is already practicing many climate protection strategies. Much of this document lays the foundation for Keene to move forward with a public process and further refinement of its climate change and overall sustainability goals. Another important process Keene is preparing for is a comprehensive master plan update, wherein the community, City, and other local and regional stakeholders will play a major role in setting the course for Keene’s future. This document should be utilized in that process and incorporated accordingly into the comprehensive master plan in order to coordinate policy, make land use decisions, identify capital improvement projects, and establish funding priorities. It provides the framework to ensure current—and future—preparedness strategies in the face of climate change.

Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2008

Bangladesh is one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world and will become even more so as a result of climate change. Floods, tropical cyclones, storm surges and droughts are likely to become more frequent and severe in the coming years. These changes will threaten the significant achievements Bangladesh has made over the last 20 years in increasing incomes and reducing poverty, and will make it more difficult to achieve the MDGs.