Funded Projects

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Year Funded: 2020   |   Physiology, climate change, and the ecosystem approach to fishery management in Northeastern Pacific ecosystems: improving the representation of functional group physiologies in end-to-end ecosystem models

Principal Investigator (s) : Lorenzo Ciannelli, Oregon State University

Co-Investigator (s) : Jim Ruzicka, NOAA Fisheries - PIFSC

Collaborators (s) :

SUMMARY:

Problem: Federal policy and the COCA Fisheries and Climate program support the development of ecosystem-based fisheries management and the tools that enable accurate evaluation of trade-offs between competing resource management and conservation objectives in a changing environment. End-to-end (physics-to-fisheries) ecosystem models describing interactions between multiple species and fishing fleets within dynamic physical environments provide a tool to evaluate consequences of alternate management actions and a changing climate. These models typically emphasize the impact of environmental variability in terms of effects upon plankton productivity, distribution, and taxonomic composition. But rearrangements in food web structure arising from differential physiological responses to temperature and prey quality conditions can have large consequences among economically important species. Accurate representation of the ecophysiologies of individual groups is necessary to correctly represent the effects of climate change upon fishery production and anticipate effects of management actions.

Objectives: 1. Expand capabilities of end-to-end models through improved representation of the ecophysiologies of individual groups in terms of allocation of consumed energy to growth in changing temperature and prey quality conditions. 2. Evaluate ecological and economic consequences of changing temperature, current, and prey quality regimes. 3. Improve policy exploration capabilities of end-to-end models to quantify trade-offs between competing resource management and conservation objectives arising out of management actions for individual stocks.

Approach: ECOTRAN is a high taxonomic complexity end-to-end model. Revised descriptions of how bioenergetic budgets of individual groups respond to changes in temperature and prey quality will be incorporated into ECOTRAN models representing two Large Marine Ecosystems (LME), the Northern California Current (NCC) and the coastal Gulf of Alaska (CGoA). Simulations will evaluate how changing environmental conditions and fishing effort in each LME affect ecosystem structure, yield among different fishing sectors, and the economic well-being of communities that depend upon access to LME resources. Simulations under a “business-as-usual” CO2 emissions scenario will estimate how NCC ecosystem structure and fishing sector yields will change with the climate in coming decades. Finally, ECOTRAN will be applied to estimate the collateral consequences of changing effort by the Pacific hake fleet within the NCC upon other commercially important stocks, conservation goals, and economic revenue of other fishing fleets within the context of a changing physical environment. Hake are the most important stock within the California Current in terms of landed tons and play an important ecological role as major consumers of forage species and prey for higher trophic level predators.

Year Funded: 2020   |   From climate to communities in the Gulf of Alaska: Using an integrated modeling approach to evaluate drivers of present and future system-level productivity and assess climate impacts on fishing-dependent communities

Principal Investigator (s) : Martin Dorn, NOAA Fisheries

Co-Investigator (s) : Beth Fulton, CSIRO; Alan Haynie, NOAA Fisheries; Andre Punt, Univ. of Washington; Marysia Szymkowiak, NOAA Fisheries; Elizabeth McHuron, JISAO; Kerim Aydin, NOAA Fisheries; Caihong Fu, DFO Canada; Brian Fadely, NOAA Fisheries; Albert Hermann, JISAO; Kirstin Holsman, NOAA Fisheries; Anne Hollowed, NOAA Fisheries; Stephen Kasperski, NOAA Fisheries; Jamal Moss, NOAA Fisheries; Olav Ormseth, NOAA Fisheries; Lauren Rogers, NOAA Fisheries,; Chang Seung, NOAA Fisheries; James Thorson, NOAA Fisheries; Katie Sweeney, NOAA Fisheries

Collaborators (s) :

ABSTRACT:  The Gulf of Alaska (GOA) ecosystem supports valuable and diverse marine fisheries, annually  producing $1.3-2.1 billion dollars first wholesale value as well as supporting valuable recreational  and subsistence fisheries. While in aggregate Bering Sea fisheries are larger than those in the GOA  (27% larger in value in 2017), the majority of Alaska’s population resides in the GOA region,  many living in isolated fishing-dependent communities. The ecosystem exhibits strong  fluctuations in productivity, driven by climate events such as the 1977 regime shift, and the 2013-  2016 marine heatwave. Although the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) has  been responsive to past fluctuations, for instance recommending an 80% cut in the Pacific cod  quota due to a decline in biomass linked to the marine heat wave, future climate change in the  North Pacific is forecast to be greater than has been experienced historically. This research begins  to address the critical need to anticipate those changes, evaluate their impact on the ecosystem and  its inhabitants, and to prepare appropriate management responses. The timing of this research is  critical and of heightened importance because the NPFMC is considering management changes in  the GOA, such as implementing new catch share programs, and this research would help to ensure  new management measures are resilient to the impacts of climate change. 

This project develops an integrated research program that 1) leverages ongoing research at the  Alaska Fisheries Science Center, 2) is closely aligned with the successful eastern Bering Sea  ALCIM project, and 3) represents a substantial step towards meeting the objectives of GOA  Climate Science Regional Action Plan (Dorn et al. 2018) and the NMFS climate science strategy  (Link et al. 2015). The overarching research questions of this integrated program concern the drivers of system-level productivity under climate change, the ways that fisheries management can  promote resilient fisheries in a changing climate, and development of a coupled modeling approach that extends from climate to communities to evaluate economic and social impacts of climate  change on resource-dependent communities in the GOA. The integrated program includes  oceanographic modeling driven by climate projections of earth system models (ESM), an ensemble  of biological models including single species, multi-species, and ecosystem models, including the Atlantis end-to-end ecosystem model. A marine mammal component will use the 2013-2016  marine heatwave as a natural experiment to evaluate and predict the impacts of major  environmental anomalies on an endangered population of Steller sea lions. A major focus of this  research will be to evaluate the impacts of a changing climate on resource-dependent communities  in the Gulf of Alaska. Funding is requested to conduct surveys and construct predictive models of  decision-making by individual fishermen as they respond to changing management structures and  fishing opportunities in the GOA. We will build a fleet dynamics model for different fleets in the GOA which will give us the capacity to link the models in the multi-model ensemble, including  the Atlantis model, to computable general equilibrium (CGE) regional economic models that  separately model the economies of six fishing communities in Southwest Alaska within a larger  economic model of Alaska.

Year Funded: 2020   |   The Alaska climate Integrate Modeling Project Phase 2: Building pathways to resilience, through evaluation of climate impacts, risk, and adaptation responses of marine ecosystems, fisheries, and coastal communities in the Bering Sea, Alaska

Principal Investigator (s) : Anne Hollowed, NOAA Fisheries

Co-Investigator (s) : Kirstin Holsman, NOAA Fisheries; Alan Haynie, NOAA Fisheries; Jonathan Reum, NOAA Fisheries; Andre Punt, Univ. of Washington

Collaborators (s) :

ABSTRACT:  The ACLIM Phase 2 project extends an existing fisheries and climate program (ACLIM) to understand and project climate impacts on fish stocks and fisheries to inform management and sustain fisheries in the Eastern Bering Sea (EBS). Despite historical resilience to natural fluctuations, fish, fisheries, and fisheries managers in Alaska are increasingly challenged by a rapidly changing environment. Of particular and pressing concern, the EBS recently experienced extreme warming and a rapid decrease in ice extent and duration with profound cascading impacts on physical and biological conditions, including rapid and extensive ~1000 km poleward shifts in spatial distribution and declines in abundance for multiple crab  and fish stocks. The confluence of rapid environmental change and imperative needs for climate- informed pathways toward equitable, sustainable living marine resource management, provides  impetus for this proposal.

The ACLIM Phase 2 project will promote climate-resilient fisheries and coastal communities in the Bering Sea through the delivery of integrated climate-informed decision making and ecosystem-based fisheries management. This 3-yr integrated research program will extend the scientific foundation for sustainable and climate-informed fisheries management of groundfish and crab fisheries of the EBS through evaluation of a suite of models under climate and management scenarios. The multidisciplinary team of ACLIM will be expanded to include additional expertise on physical oceanography, marine mammals, spatial ecosystem dynamics, and social modeling. It builds on the existing regionally-focused, integrated climate, ecological, and socio-economic modeling system to fully evaluate the effects of, and tradeoffs in, adaptation strategies to support NMFS mandates under the Magnuson Stevens, Marine Mammal Protection, and Endangered Species Acts for managed resources in the EBS. ACLIM Phase 2 will: 1) expand the current modeling suite developed for the southeastern Bering Sea to the northern Bering Sea by coupling spatial distribution and foodweb tools (e.g., VAST, delta GAMs, EOFs) to biological models; 2) expand the suite of key species evaluated in management strategy evaluations to include species important for commercial and subsistence harvest; 3) expand socio-economic models through social network information, couple those to ecosystem and stock projection models, and provide community-level projections of changes in food and nutritional security, risk and tradeoffs, which are critical for decision making; 4) expand the regional ocean model hind-casts and projections to include  high-resolution ocean acidification and O2 dynamics for biological models and improve spatial nesting of physics and biogeochemistry; 5) support regular Council, community, and stakeholder scenario workshops in coordination with the Bering Sea Fisheries Ecosystem Plan to support climate-resilient decision making and tradeoff evaluations. These five objectives will be accomplished through six integrated focal components that include a) high resolution regional ocean modeling, b) biophysical model verification, c) ecological, foodweb, and marine mammal modeling, d) economic modeling, e) social-modeling, and f) among-model ensemble evaluation.

Year Funded: 2020   |   Northeast Climate Integrated Modeling to meet ocean decision challenges

Principal Investigator (s) : Lisa Kerr, Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI)

Co-Investigator (s) : Andrew Pershing, Climate Central; Katherine Mills, GMRI; Enrique Curchitser, Rutgers Univ.; Malin Pinsky, Rutgers Univ.; John Wiedemann, Rutgers Univ.; Timothy J. Miller, NOAA Fisheries; Jonathan Deroba, NOAA Fisheries; Vincent Saba, NOAA Fisheries

Collaborators (s) :

ABSTRACT:

Once a driving economic force supporting coastal communities, the multi-species groundfish fishery in New England is at a cross-road. Several species of the groundfish complex are at record low abundance and evidence suggests future adverse effects on these stocks due to climate change. The tension between conservation and industry objectives for this fishery is strong and presents a challenging backdrop upon which to plan for a future fishery that is resilient in the face of change. Co-development of a long-term strategy for the groundfish fishery in a changing Gulf of Maine by stakeholders is needed.

NOAA has engaged our project team to develop models that predict the effectiveness of alternative groundfish management strategies under various future climate scenarios and uncertainties (NOAA award: NA17OAR4310272). This is a critical first step, but without deliberate stakeholder education and engagement this management strategy evaluation (MSE) process cannot reach its full potential. MSE is a vehicle for participatory decision-making and co-development of management strategies with stakeholders will increase the realism of model scenarios, improve trust in the process, and increase the likelihood of implementation of adaptive harvest strategies by managers.

The goal of this project is to enhance stakeholders’ capacity to effectively participate in MSE processes that address climate challenges to their fishery. We will address this goal through stakeholder engagement and research that characterizes what different participants learn through the process. We will utilize ongoing groundfish MSE work as a tool for communicating the predicted impacts of climate change on the groundfish resource and fishery. We aim to achieve three objectives related to stakeholder engagement: 1) increase stakeholder understanding of the impacts of climate change on the groundfish resource, fishery, and management system, 2) develop stakeholders’ capacity to participate in MSE processes, and 3) elicit stakeholder perspectives on the application of MSE to the groundfish fishery in a changing ocean. In addition,  we aim to achieve three research objectives: 1) characterize stakeholder learning on climate- fisheries impacts and MSE from each workshop, 2) document lessons learned by the science team  and develop best practices for engaging stakeholders in a climate-informed MSE process, and 3) integrate stakeholder feedback into groundfish MSE and evaluate the performance of suggested alternative management procedures. We propose a series of four workshops, with associated research activities occurring between meetings, to achieve our objectives.  Participants will gain a better understanding of the MSE process and give them the necessary tools to directly participate in shaping the vision for their future fishery. Stakeholder input is expected to improve the realism of the MSE, acceptance of MSE results, and effectiveness of the process for meeting the objectives of U.S. stakeholders.

 

Year Funded: 2020   |   Impact of climate and ecosystem change on the California Current forage complex and the fishing communities and predators it sustains

Principal Investigator (s) : Desiree Tommasi, UC Santa Cruz/NOAA Fisheries; Barbara Muhling, UC Santa Cruz/NOAA Fisheries; Isaac Kaplan, NOAA Fisheries;

Co-Investigator (s) : Steven Bograd, NOAA Fisheries; Elliott Hazen, NOAA Fisheries; Michael Jacox, NOAA Fisheries; Stefan Koenigstein, UC Santa Cruz; Stephen Stohs, NOAA Fisheries; Jonathan Sweeney, CSIRO

Collaborators (s) : Kevin Hill, NOAA Fisheries; Peter Kuriyama, NOAA Fisheries; Brian Wells, NOAA Fisheries; Beth Fulton, CSIRO; James Smith, UC Santa Cruz; Jerome Fiechter, UC Santa Cruz; Juan Zwolinski, NOAA Fisheries

ABSTRACT:

Introduction to the problem: Fish stocks do not live isolated from, but are part of, an ecosystem. Their productivity is intrinsically related to the dynamics of their predators (including fishers), prey and environmental conditions. For management to be most effective under future climate change, management decision frameworks must capture these interactions and we need to understand how such interactions will change or vary in the future.

Rationale and statement of Work: In the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem (CCLME), forage fish are a key trophic link between the planktonic food web and a host of top and mid trophic-level predators. They also support commercially important fisheries. To be able to sustain their mandate of maintaining a resilient CCLME ecosystem and fishing economy under future climate change, fisheries managers require a climate-informed, decision-support tool to evaluate how harvest of forage species impacts ecosystem health, the trade-offs between increasing predator populations and target fisheries, and the performance of management strategies under climate and ecosystem uncertainty. Using multi-model inference, we will quantify climate impacts on ecosystem state and processes in the CCLME (including the uncertainty in such projections) and assess the vulnerability of protected species and fishery participants to projected variability in forage and fishing portfolios, respectively. We will also develop a climate informed ecosystem management strategy evaluation framework to assess performance of current and alternative management strategies under a changing climate, shifting forage species composition, and varying predator populations. Key elements of the proposed workplan are to 1) project forage species habitat distributions in the CCLME under climate change, 2) assess the cumulative effects of multiple environmental and biotic drivers on the abundance and productivity of the forage complex, 3) produce projections of ecosystem state with associated uncertainty under status quo management, 4) assess impacts of climate change on coastal pelagic fishery participants, their portfolio, and the fishing communities they sustain, and 5) compare performance of current single species catch advice versus alternative ecosystem-based catch rules in meeting management objectives, given the potential future impacts of climate change on the ecosystem and fishery participants.

Relevance to the Competition that is being targeted and NOAA’s long-term climate research goals: The proposed project is strongly applicable to the research priorities outlined in this competition, as it will a) build on existing efforts to develop integrated climate, ecological, and socio-economic modeling capabilities to evaluate performance of fisheries management strategies and inform climate-resilient fisheries management, b) improve understanding of how climate variability and change, fishing pressure, and other stressors interact to affect fish stocks and the performance of management strategies under current and future conditions, and c) investigate socio-economic impacts of climate variability and change on fisheries and dependent communities. Furthermore, this project supports NOAA’s long-term climate research goals by increasing capabilities in decision support research designed to advance our understanding of how Earth’s climate system influences sustainability of marine ecosystems and the communities that depend on them, and to foster the application and use of this knowledge to improve the climate resilience of fisheries stakeholders.

Year Funded: 2019   |   Adapting to Changes in "Fishing Opportunity Portfolios": Abundance, Availability, and Access

Principal Investigator (s) : Victoria Ramenzoni, Rutgers University

Co-Investigator (s) : Chris Free, University of California, Santa Barbara; Olaf Jensen, Rutgers University; Malin Pinsky, Rutgers University; John Wiedenmann, Rutgers University

Collaborators (s) :

To advance current work on socio-economic risk and vulnerabilities in Northeast coastal fisheries, we propose a novel tool that helps communities scope potential adaptation options and connects stakeholders with relevant scientific information on changing ocean conditions. The approach is centered on the "fishing opportunity portfolio": a weighted aggregate of the fishing opportunities utilized by individuals or communities that integrates social, management, and biophysical factors. This index combines three factors that influence fishing opportunities: (1) Abundance and productivity of the target species, (2) Availability of the target species within the typical area fished, and (3) Access to the fishery - the permits and quota, spatial and temporal restrictions, and other regulatory measures that constrain legal access to the fishery.

The fishing opportunity portfolio will be a useful new tool to highlight leverage points for fishery management that are grounded in human behavioral responses to variability in physical, ecological, and biological processes. Using a mixed methods approach (ethnography and semi-structured questionnaires, surveys, mapping, and modelling techniques), we will generate measures of Access, Abundance, and Availability and examine changes and variability in the fishing opportunity portfolios of fishers within five Northeast U.S. fishing communities: Cushing, ME; Newport, RI; Point Pleasant, NJ; Cape May, NJ; and Wanchese, NC. Sites represent a wide range of geography (Maine to North Carolina) and climate vulnerability (Colburn et al. 2016, Jepson and Colburn 2013). In addition, we will request input from NOAA Sea Grant and local extension programs to adjust these pilot communities if needed. To develop and validate fishing opportunity portfolios, we will combine information on fishing practices in these sites with measures of abundance and availability of fishing stocks. These data will allow us to identify temporal trends in fishing opportunities historically and out to 2050. Finally, we will assess adaptation to changes in the fishing opportunity portfolio and hold meetings to communicate results back to fishers, community leaders, and fishery managers.

This proposal directly addresses the broader CSI goal of providing "Support for innovative, applicable and transferable approaches for decision making, especially for risk characterization in the context of a variable and changing climate." We also address two of the specific goals of this competition. We develop a new tool to "Assess socio-economic risks and vulnerabilities of fishing communities to climate related variability and change in marine ecosystems." Our analysis of changes in abundance and productivity for community fishing opportunity portfolios will also be used to "Communicate risks of changing ocean conditions to inform effective planning and management."

Year Funded: 2019   |   Climate Vulnerabilities and Adaptation Pathways for Northeast U.S. Fishing Communities

Principal Investigator (s) : Katherine Mills, Gulf of Maine Research Institute

Co-Investigator (s) : Jonathan Labaree, Gulf of Maine Research Institute; Bradley Franklin, Gulf of Maine Research Institute; Riley Young Morse, Gulf of Maine Research Institute; Lisa L. Colburn, NOAA Fisheries Service; Eric Thunberg, NOAA Fisheries; Michael Alexander, NOAA Earth System Research Lab

Collaborators (s) :

Marine ecosystems, fish populations, and fisheries that depend on them are all being affected by climate change. In the Northeast U. S., waters have warmed rapidly, marine heatwaves have become more common, and seasonality is changing. These physical changes are affecting fish populations, resulting in declines in some traditionally-important species and the emergence of species from the south. As the species impacts become widely apparent, more complex questions are arising: how will fisheries and fishing communities be affected, and how can they adapt in ways that create new opportunities and ensure the persistence of viable, sustainable fisheries in their communities in the future?

This project will advance the science needed to support adaptation planning by fishing communities in the context of climate-related species changes. With funding from the CSI/COCA/Sustainable Fisheries in a Changing Climate Program: Supporting Resilient Fishing Communities in the Northeast Region, the project will develop community-specific information about vulnerabilities, adaptation strategies, and adaptation pathways. To our knowledge, this project will be the first to apply the adaptation pathways framework—an approach that elucidates multiple adaptation choices, timeframes, and cross-scale dependencies that shape adaptation—to marine fisheries in the U. S. The project will leverage three previously-funded COCA projects to update distribution projections for 56 species and vulnerability information for 75 communities, provide economic assessments of adaptation strategies for 25 communities, and develop adaptation pathways and associated engagement processes for four focal communities. An interactive website will organize, serve, and facilitate long-term user access to data and information on species changes, economic impacts, adaptation benefits, and adaptation pathways under multiple climate and adaptation scenarios. Finally, outreach associated with this project will (1) extend the use of these resources to new fishing communities through training of on-the-ground partners across the region and (2) convey important information to fishery management bodies. Ultimately, the project will serve as a model that can be used by fishing communities facing climate adaptation challenges in other regions of the U.S. and world.

This project contributes to the NOAA Climate Program Office’s goal of advancing scientific information to enable effective decisions that support ecosystem, community, and economic resilience. It will integrate information across the complex system in which fisheries operate— from physics and ecosystems to economies and communities—to produce vulnerability information, develop adaptation pathways, and work with local communities to apply that information to their adaptation planning processes. In addition, the project addresses all five objectives requested by the COCA/CSI program: (1) assess socio-economic risks and vulnerabilities of fishing communities to climate-related variability and change, (2) work with fishing communities to scope potential adaptation options and outline the costs of inaction, (3) improve existing or develop new methodologies to connect fishing communities with relevant scientific information on changing ocean conditions, (4) communicate risks of changing ocean conditions to inform effective planning and management, and (5) develop tools, guidance, and/or trainings to build capacity for responding to the impacts of changing oceans. While meeting NOAA’s strategic objectives, this project will provide tangible information for Northeast U. S. fishing communities as they prepare to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Year Funded: 2019   |   Adaptation to Climate Change in the Maine Lobster (Homarus americanus) Fishery

Principal Investigator (s) : Keith Evans, University of Maine

Co-Investigator (s) : Dr. Yong Chen, University of Maine; Andrew Crawley, University of Maine; Teresa Johnson University of Maine

Collaborators (s) :

Partners: Maine Lobster Association and the Maine Department of Marine Resources Introduction to the problem: The American lobster is a major seafood commodity and supports the most valuable fishery in the US, worth more than $667 million in 2016. Over 5,000 fishermen, their families, and their communities in Maine rely on the lobster fishery as a source of income, employment, and cultural identity. Often, fishermen lack alternative employment opportunities, leaving them sensitive to changes in the abundance and spatial distribution of lobster. Recent studies question the social resilience of Maine’s lobstermen and lobster fishing communities, especially their ability to respond to environmental and social changes, and call for better preparing fishers to adapt to future changes. Changes in the abundance and/or spatial distribution of lobster may impact fishery production and create ripples throughout the regional economic system. Not only are the incomes of lobstermen impacted, but also the incomes of businesses directly related to the seafood supply chain (e.g., bait shops, dealers, and processors) and those indirectly related to the fisher fishery (e.g., restaurants and tourism). Likewise, the population dynamics of American lobster are vulnerable to harvest activities and changes in environmental conditions. Together, this describes a coupled natural-human system vulnerable to environmental changes and the corresponding biological, social, and economic impacts.

Rationale: As the rate of environmental change is predicted to accelerate, alongside the species’ ongoing distributional shifts, there is a growing need to develop predictive capacity for spatio-temporal changes in lobster distribution and resulting socio-economic impacts, and to better prepare fishermen to respond to future change. One of the best ways to adapt to altered marine ecosystems is to improve our ability to forecast biological, social, and economic responses through improved modeling capability. Thus, the overarching goal of this study is to improve our predictive capacity and fishermen’s ability to adapt to environmental changes. 

Summary of work: We propose to develop improved and integrated modeling capacity, leveraging new and existing biological, social and economic data, to improve our ability to forecast biological, social and economic responses. Objective 1 (Biological): Project possible changes in spatio-temporal distribution of American lobster along the coast of Maine in a changing Gulf of Maine (GOM); Objective 2 (Economic): Explore the capacity for adaptive behavior by fishermen and quantify the economic impacts under possible changes in the spatio- temporal distribution of American lobster; and Objective 3 (Social): document and identify resilience strategies for lobstermen and their communities facing a changing marine environment.

Relevance: This project addresses several COCA goals. Specifically, the “need to understand key socio-economic challenges affecting fishing communities as well as [the] mechanisms to effectively communicate this information for adaptation planning and management; ... build the capacity of fishing communities along the US northeast; [and]... assess socio-economic assess socio-economic risks and impacts of climate-driven changes in marine ecosystems to inform adaptation planning and management decisions.”

Year Funded: 2019   |   Climate Resilient Seafood Supply Chains: Adapting to the Fisheries of the Future

Principal Investigator (s) : David Gregg, Rhode Island Natural History Survey

Co-Investigator (s) : Hirotsugu Uchida, University of Rhode Island; Dawn M. Kotowicz, Coastal Resource Center, Rhode Island Sea Grant, University of Rhode Island; Katherine E. Masury, Eating with the Ecosystem

Collaborators (s) :

Due to climate change and variability, fish stocks are shifting in location, timing, and abundance. In the last decade, the waters off of New England have already warmed faster than much of the world’s oceans and as a result, the impacts of climate change and variability are particularly acute in this region. Fisheries scientists have been studying these changes in order to advance the understanding of climate-related impacts on our marine ecosystems and fish populations. In turn, fisheries managers have begun to figure out how to incorporate this science into their management decisions. Development of real-time and dynamic response mechanisms in management are critical for fisheries to remain viable in such a variable environment. 

However, as fishermen land a different composition of species, land different volumes of species, or land species at different times of year than they historically have, it is uncertain how these types of changes will play out in the seafood marketplace. Resilient fishing communities rely not only on healthy fish stocks and sustainable management, but also on marketplace demand and functioning seafood supply chains.

In this project, we propose to conduct the first major research project focused on climate change and seafood supply chains in New England. In addition to gathering a high-level overview of impacts, vulnerability, adaptation, and resilience in a broad spectrum of supply chains originating in New England fishing ports, we will use survey and field experimental methods to study how the New England seafood supply chains respond to seafood species that are “climate winners” (i.e. species that are predicted to become more abundant in New England waters due to climate change) and how they can most effectively market these species to support resilient local fishing communities.

Year Funded: 2019   |   Stakeholder Engagement in Management Strategy Evaluation of New England Groundfish in a Changing Ocean

Principal Investigator (s) : Lisa Kerr: Gulf of Maine Research Institute

Co-Investigator (s) : Jonathan Labaree, Gulf of Maine Research Institute; Jonathan Cummings, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth; Matthew Cutler, Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Collaborators (s) :

Once a driving economic force supporting coastal communities, the multi-species groundfish fishery in New England is at a crossroads. Several species of the groundfish complex are at record low abundance and evidence suggests future adverse effects on these stocks due to climate change. The tension between conservation and industry objectives for this fishery is strong and presents a challenging backdrop upon which to plan for a future fishery that is resilient in the face of change. Co-development of a long-term strategy for the groundfish fishery in a changing Gulf of Maine by stakeholders is needed.

NOAA has engaged our project team to develop models that predict the effectiveness of alternative groundfish management strategies under various future climate scenarios and uncertainties.This is a critical first step, but without deliberate stakeholder education and engagement this management strategy evaluation (MSE) process cannot reach its full potential. MSE is a vehicle for participatory decision-making and co-development of management strategies with stakeholders will increase the realism of model scenarios, improve trust in the process, and increase the likelihood of implementation of adaptive harvest strategies by managers.

The goal of this project is to provide climate intelligence to fisheries stakeholders in the Northeast groundfish industry and develop stakeholders’ capacity to participate in MSE processes that address climate challenges to their fishery. We will address this goal through stakeholder engagement and research that characterizes what different participants learn through the process. We will utilize ongoing groundfish MSE work as a tool for communicating the predicted impacts of climate change on the groundfish resource and fishery. We aim to achieve three objectives related to stakeholder engagement: 1) increase stakeholder understanding of the impacts of climate change on the groundfish resource, fishery, and management system, 2) develop stakeholders’ capacity to participate in MSE processes, and 3) elicit stakeholder perspectives on the application of MSE to the groundfish fishery in a changing ocean. In addition, we aim to achieve three research objectives: 1) characterize stakeholder learning on climate-fisheries impacts and MSE from each workshop, 2) document lessons learned by the science team and develop best practices for engaging stakeholders in a climate-informed MSE process, and 3) integrate stakeholder feedback into groundfish MSE and evaluate the performance of suggested alternative management procedures. We propose a series of four workshops, with associated research activities occurring between meetings, to achieve our objectives.

This research addresses the objectives of NOAA’s COCA program for focused projects Supporting Resilient Fishing Communities in the Northeast Region. This work will directly address the call to “help build capacity of fishing communities along the U.S. Northeast coast to assess socio-economic risks and impacts of climate-driven changes in marine ecosystems to inform adaptation planning and management decisions”. Participants will gain a better understanding of the MSE process and give them the necessary tools to directly participate in shaping the vision for their future fishery. Stakeholder input is expected to improve the realism of the MSE, acceptance of MSE results, and effectiveness of the process for meeting the objectives of U.S. stakeholders.

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