Step 3: Adaptation in Practice

Climate change is a problem that requires the development and implementation of diverse, robust management strategies that can help practitioners prepare for and respond to impacts. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change defines adaptation as an “adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities” (IPCC 2007). Adaptation actions are taken to either avoid or take advantage of climate change impacts, either by decreasing vulnerability or increasing resilience. Climate adaptation approaches include supporting resistance, resilience, or response of human and natural systems in the face of change. Resistance approaches include actions that reduce the amount of change or increase the ability of systems to withstand change, while resilience approaches aim to improve the ability of systems to recover from change (Gregg et al. 2011). Response or transition actions focus on helping systems accommodate changes that do occur (Millar et al. 2007). Additional approaches include increasing knowledge in order to gather more information on climate change and/or management effectiveness, and enhancing collaboration to coordinate efforts and capacity across jurisdictions and other boundaries.

Adaptation activities may be grouped in a number of ways. In order to organize our findings for this survey, we grouped adaptation strategies as they relate to fisheries management by the following categories:

  1. Capacity Building: Strategies include conducting research and collecting additional information, conducting training and planning exercises, improving public awareness and education, developing tools and resources, and monitoring impacts and efficacy of adaptation action.
  2. Policy: Strategies include developing adaptation plans and policies, creating new or enhancing existing policies, and developing adaptive management strategies.
  3. Natural Resource Management & Conservation: Strategies include incorporating climate change into restoration efforts, enhancing connectivity and areas under protection, reducing local change, and reducing non-climate stressors.
  4. Infrastructure, Planning & Development: Strategies include improving existing or designing new infrastructure to withstand the effects of climate change, and creating or modifying shoreline management measures.