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. 

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Coordinator, Shaping the Future of Your Community
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Gulf TREE

Tool Overview: 

Gulf TREE was created to fulfill the need for guidance in climate tool selection. Stakeholders such as natural resource managers and community planners who understood the importance of incorporating climate resiliency into their projects struggled to find the right tool - the daunting process can be time-consuming, overwhelming, and very confusing.

Tool Description: 

To ensure that Gulf TREE would be relevant, workshops across the Gulf Coast were held both before and after development of the website. During the workshops, potential users gave input on current climate challenges, what they looked for when selecting a tool, and specific features they would like in Gulf TREE. When development finished, they tested the website and gave additional feedback which was integrated before the website publicly rolled out.

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Community Protection Specialist
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Available Science Assessment Process (ASAP): Sea Level Rise in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California

The goal of the Available Science Assessment Process (ASAP) is to synthesize and evaluate the body of scientific knowledge on specific, on-the-ground climate adaptation actions to determine the conditions, timeframes, and geographic areas where particular actions may be most effective for resource managers. This project identified sea level rise-related adaptation actions applied by resource managers, and evaluated the science behind those actions that may inform - if not improve - coastal planning and management in the Northwest.

Webinar: Rapid Vulnerability Assessment Tool for MPA Managers

This webinar originally aired May 8, 2018.

This North American Rapid Vulnerability Assessment Tool helps marine protected area managers evaluate the implications of climate change for the habitats of their sites. The tool was created as part of a project on climate assessment and adaptation by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation.  It is available in English and Spanish and has three parts (a user guide, a set of blank worksheets, and a booklet containing sample completed worksheets), which used together allow marine protected area managers to conduct a rapid vulnerability assessment and adaptation strategy development process. This webinar will cover: 1) why the tool was created, 2) an overview of the tool (how it works, what it looks like, where to find it), 3) the experience of using the tool, and 4) additional application of the tool. Learn more about the tool here.

Presented by Sara Hutto of Greater Farallones Association and Lara Hansen of EcoAdapt.

Webinar co-sponsored by the NOAA National MPA Center, MPA News, and the EBM Tools Network (co-coordinated by OCTO and NatureServe).

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Tribal Resilience Program - Senior GIS Analyst