4. Infrastructure, Planning & Development

This category includes strategies such as 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.



Make Infrastructure Resilient to Climate Change

This strategy includes incorporating climate change considerations into the management, retrofitting, and development of fisheries infrastructure, such as aquaculture facilities, processing and storage plants, and coastal structures (e.g., docks, piers).

Whiskey Creek (Netarts Bay, Oregon) and Taylor Shellfish (Dabob Bay, Washington) hatcheries are two of the primary larvae suppliers to the shellfish industry on the West Coast. Both hatcheries experienced low production of oyster larvae in the mid-2000s; hatchery managers determined that periods of reduced pH levels correlated with low larval production rates (Feifel 2010b). As part of the Oyster Emergency Project, the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association and partners identified the retrofitting of hatcheries to actively treat acidified waters as a key mechanism to alleviate production declines associated with ocean acidification. Small-scale treatments, such as the addition of sodium carbonate in tanks to help balance pH levels, are implemented at Whiskey Creek and Taylor Shellfish with some success (Barton et al. 2015); however, scaling these treatments up to address ocean acidification at a commercial scale is more challenging.

The Native Village of Nuiqsut, Alaska and its surrounding environment is rapidly changing because of warming temperatures and thawing permafrost, which poses risks to food security. The community uses underground ice cellars dug into the permafrost to store and preserve food, such as fish, caribou, and whale meat. These permafrost freezers have effectively been used for centuries by Native Villages throughout Alaska, including Kivalina, Barrow, Kaktovik, and Point Hope. As temperatures rise and the permafrost thaws, however, the ice cellars are melting and filling with water, spoiling the stored food and leading to structural failures (Bell 2016). One possible solution is an innovative, energy efficient ice cellar designed by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, which features a thermostat-controlled cooling system and ventilation to support the exchange of cellar and outside air (Brubaker et al. 2016).


Modify Shoreline Management Measures

This strategy includes incorporating climate change into shoreline management techniques, which range from shoreline armoring (e.g., rip rap, bulkheads) and “living” shorelines (e.g., vegetation buffers) to policy and planning measures (e.g., managed retreat, setbacks, low-impact development).

Critical fish habitats, including spawning, nursery, and feeding grounds, are located along marine shorelines, bays, and estuaries. The City of Malibu’s coastline is home to some of the world’s most famous beaches, as well as several endangered species, including the Southern California Coast steelhead (O. mykiss) and the tidewater goby (Eucyclogobius newberryi) (Hitt 2010). The California Coastal Act of 1976 requires that coastal cities’ and counties’ planning and development ordinances comply with specific goals and policies, including the explicit consideration of future conditions and coastal hazards. Malibu’s Land Use and Local Implementation Plans outline policies to respond to risks such as flooding, erosion, sea level rise, and intense coastal storms driven by climate change. For example, the plans require new development to be set back and elevated above the base Flood Elevation, removal of shoreline armoring or hardening where possible, and impact assessments for proposed developments on beachfront and bluff-top properties that are susceptible to climate impacts.

Living shorelines and other “soft” engineering approaches to naturally buffer coastal habitats are popular adaptation approaches. For example, oyster reefs serve a variety of ecosystem functions, reducing shoreline erosion, creating three-dimensional habitats, and improving water quality by filtering nutrients and sediments. However, these habitats have declined by 85% worldwide (Beck et al. 2009). By dissipating wave energy, oyster reefs help buffer shorelines from storm surges and sea level rise. This habitat has disappeared from much of the Gulf Coast, including Alabama’s shoreline. The Nature Conservancy and partners used the wild American oyster (Crassostrea virginica) to restore oyster habitat and stabilize and restore eroding shoreline habitat in south Mobile County, Alabama (Gregg 2010q). The project team, supported by volunteers, created three acres of oyster reef along two miles of coastline, and 30 acres of marsh and seagrass habitat between November 2009 and September 2012. This project spurred the establishment of the 100-1000: Restore Coastal Alabama program, which aims to build 100 miles of oyster reefs and cultivate the growth of 1,000 acres of marsh and seagrass habitat for commercial and recreational fish species, including shrimp, blue crab, and southern flounder. Similar projects are underway in the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuary, North Carolina (Gregg 2010h), and Wellfleet Bay, Massachusetts (Gregg 2010r).