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Advancing climate informed decision-making tools for Alaska fishing communities through transdisciplinary research

Bering Sea fishing communities are on the frontline of climate change. Climate-driven effects have directly impacted the social, economic, and cultural systems of coastal communities and increased barriers to management of commercial and subsistence fisheries. Frontline fishing communities (FFC) in the Northern Bering Sea (NBS) region face unique challenges due to being highly remote and reliant on living marine resources for cultural cohesion, and food security and sovereignty.

These same communities have endured historical, social, and ecological ties to their environment, and thus have extensive local and Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge (ITEK) on the Bering Sea ecosystem. Concurrently, there can be a divergence in the scale and scope of climate-informed information and adaptive responses within Bering Sea fisheries and fishing communities.

This has consequences for regional management and locally relevant decision-making and adaptation planning. Greater coordination across fisheries, fishing communities, climate scientists, and managers is needed to provide fisheries and FFC accessible and relevant climate information, inclusive of local and ITEK, for effective climate adaptation. The goal of ACLIM3-B is to synthesize community-level climate observations, rooted in multiple forms of knowledge, and develop the processes and best practices to scale climate adaptation decision support tools for Bering Sea fisheries and FFC. By coordinating knowledge of climate impacts on species of concern, this project can reflect different perspectives to better inform effective adaptive strategies.

Species of concern include those marine organisms with cultural, spiritual, and economic significance. Drawing from strong partnerships and transdisciplinary methods, this work has four objectives: 1) Engage in partnership building and knowledge sharing to strengthen the bidirectional flow of information among frontline Bering Sea fishing communities, resource managers, and climate change modelers; 2) Co-develop participatory methods to build a shared understanding of community- and fishery-level climate change impacts and effects on food security and risk and adaptation effectiveness; 3) Collaborate on food security assessment methods for Bering Sea fishing communities to support community resilience and adaptation efficacy; and 4) Utilize existing management on-ramps to incorporate climate change information, forecasts, indices and context from multiple knowledge sources into management pathways and processes.

This project will advance understanding of climate impacts and adaptation for frontline fishing communities in the Bering Sea while aligning with regional, national, and global efforts to co-develop and test methods to strengthen locally determined adaptation planning. ACLIM-3B directly links to North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) research priorities, NMFS Regional Action Plans, and NOAA climate and National Strategy for Seafood Resilience and Competitiveness. By bridging multiple knowledge systems, this research will facilitate a working knowledge network among FFC, Tribes, scientists, and NPFMC staff to coordinate climate information and forecasts for informed decision-making and management of “climate-ready fisheries”. Deliverables from the project support actionable advice and climate-informed decision-making to amplify community voices on food security and climate impacts, and enable remote NBS fisheries and FFCs to plan and respond to climate change. To ensure success, the research team represents diverse expertise across multiple partnerships including those with Tribal Councils, fishing associations, the NPFM Council, academic institutions, and NOAA Fisheries.

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