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Climate resilient seafood supply chains: adapting to the fisheries of the future

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.

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