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.

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. 

Incorporating Climate Change Response into a General Management Plan, Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland and Virginia

Location

United States
38° 6' 41.2704" N, 75° 12' 19.9296" W
US
Author Name(s): 
Trish Kicklighter
Summary: 

Assateague Island National Seashore is developing a general management plan that addresses projected climate change impacts on resources and infrastructure. The plan must include a range of management tools for improving resource resiliency and repairing facilities that will be impacted by climate change and storms. 

Developing a Multiagency Vision for an Urban Coastline, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California

Location

United States
37° 49' 31.1808" N, 122° 29' 55.536" W
US
Author Name(s): 
Jodi Eshleman and Kristen Ward
Summary: 

Golden Gate National Recreation Area is collaborating with local, state, and federal agencies to develop a long-term management strategy for Ocean Beach, where bluff erosion threatens natural and recreational resources, wastewater infrastructure, and a roadway (the Great Highway). Sea level rise and increased storminess are expected to increase the frequency of erosional events. 

The Need for Storm Recovery Plans, Cape Lookout National Seashore, North Carolina

Location

1698 Island Rd
28531 Harkers Island , NC
United States
34° 41' 10.122" N, 76° 31' 52.212" W
North Carolina US
Author Name(s): 
Patrick Kenney
Summary: 

Cape Lookout National Seashore is regularly impacted by hurricanes and other storms. To improve park management, the park needed to develop a post-storm recovery plan to ensure wise fiscal decisions and management of public expectations for what facilities and services can be restored following these major events. 

Establishing Alternative Transportation to Fort Pickens to Supplement Vulnerable Road Access, Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida

Location

United States
30° 23' 37.6512" N, 86° 45' 51.0588" W
US
Author Name(s): 
Dan Brown
Summary: 

In Florida, the Fort Pickens Road within Gulf Islands National Seashore is regularly destroyed by storms, and repairs are expensive and time consuming. The park continues to reevaluate the local conditions and implement cost-effective, sustainable modes of visitor access to Fort Pickens beaches and the historic fort. 

Relocating Visitor Facilities Threatened by Erosion, Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland and Virginia

Location

11800 Marsh View Ln
21811 Berlin , MD
United States
38° 19' 21.414" N, 75° 13' 3.6804" W
Maryland US
Author Name(s): 
Ish Ennis
Summary: 

Assateague Island National Seashore is responsible for maintaining and managing access to a recreational beach that is impacted by storms multiple times each year. Maintaining the recreational beach in its present location is unsustainable in the face of continued storms, shoreline erosion, and sea level rise. The park must develop cost-effective, sustainable ways to provide a recreational beach and beach access that are acceptable to local interests and visitors. 

Relocating the Lighthouse, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina

Location

46368 Old Lighthouse Road
27920 Buxton , NC
United States
35° 15' 4.5756" N, 75° 31' 46.992" W
North Carolina US
Author Name(s): 
John Kowlok
Summary: 

Ongoing erosion threatened the base of a historic lighthouse at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, despite multiple hard stabilization protection efforts. The park needed to obtain funding and public support to relocate the lighthouse away from the eroding shoreline. 

Eroding Shoreline Threatens Historic Peale Island Cabin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Location

United States
44° 25' 52.8492" N, 110° 22' 12.2484" W
US
Author Name(s): 
Rebecca Beavers, Courtney Schupp, Ian Slayton, Maria Caffrey
Summary: 

Yellowstone National Park collaborated with the National Park Service Geologic Resources Division (NPS GRD) to examine the causes of shoreline erosion on Peale Island and to identify adaptation options for protecting the shoreline and a historic cabin on the island.