A new decision-making framework designed by an international team of fisheries researchers can help fisheries strengthen their capacity to adapt to a warming world. The tool, said marine ecologist Jacob Eurich of UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), is intended to take much of the guesswork out of finding resilience in times of change. climate.
“Our aim is to be able to launch any fishery in this setting and remove the bright spots and the dark spots,” Eurich said. “And the idea is that a group of stakeholders can then look at that framework and say: These are the three attributes that we need to focus on, first, that will give us the greatest impact in the future. “
By giving fisheries the opportunity to identify actions based on their specific needs, priorities and conditions, they and the communities that depend on them are empowered to implement policies and other measures that could help them resist the diverse effects of global warming.
The research is published in the journal Fish and Fisheries
What is resilience?
As the world’s population continues to increase, fishing is expected to provide an increasing amount of the world’s food. They are also among the first food systems to be impacted by climate change, as the waters warm and the oceans acidify.
“The frequency and severity of climate impacts are increasing, and we can project future scenarios with various modeling techniques to determine which fisheries might find themselves in more negative space over the next decade,” said Eurich, co-author main article. with Jacqueline Lau at James Cook University and Julia Mason at the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability.
The three took a deep, broad and holistic look at the notion of resilience in fisheries in this one-of-a-kind study.
This is not an easy task. Global fisheries are diverse, from large commercial enterprises to smaller recreational and subsistence fisheries. They are also subject to various local environmental requirements, regulations and effects.
“In California, for example, we had a strong heat wave from 2014 to 2016, and it impacted our local fisheries,” Eurich said of a marine heat wave and a proliferation of seafood. algae which has affected a number of fisheries near and along the coast, from commercial rocks. from crab operations to knife fishing, to Dungeness crab fishing.
What California’s coastal fisheries need to withstand environmental shocks may be different from what the North Atlantic cod fisheries need or what the Pacific Island tuna fisheries need.
“The way we think about resilience is the ability of a fishing system to bounce back or adapt to something that changes or an external shock,” he said.
To capture this idea, the researchers looked at research and data on fisheries resilience in three dimensions.
“The first is the ecological system – what happens underwater; what happens to the fish stock as a population, ”explained Eurich. “The second area is governance – how is the fishery actually managed?
“And the third – which has generally attracted the least attention among the three dimensions – is the socio-economic dimension, and in particular the social aspect of fishing, or the intrinsic worth, attachment or state of. spirit that we have. Usually we focus on economic benefit, population structure and species dynamics, but we’re really trying to highlight the human dimension here.
History, culture and even the political climate are taken into account in the resilience assessment.
To these three dimensions, the researchers applied five domains of resilience: flexibility, organization, learning, agency and assets. And from there, they distilled and defined 38 attributes “that confer climate resilience”. The researchers then described how they apply to fishing and provided illustrative examples of attributes of resilience in action.
Lessons to learn
Examining fisheries in this way would not only highlight the particular strengths of a fishery, but also shed light on the potential risks and weaknesses that can result from climate change. For example, according to the paper, California’s commercial Dungeness crab fishery was considered robust due to its high productivity and large population size.
These qualities led to minimal management oversight and low risk perception, which left the fishery “unprepared and slow to respond” to harmful algal blooms associated with the 2014-16 sea heatwave. As a result, the fishery suffered significant economic losses.
The framework also allows managers to learn from other fisheries to better prepare for and respond to potential setbacks without having to reinvent the wheel. It relates to Eurich’s work in the South Pacific, where communities are already bearing the brunt of the impacts of climate change.
“Many of the South Pacific island countries have a very strong resilience mindset,” Eurich said. “As a nation and people, the people are very, very traditionally and functionally connected to their ocean system.”
Resilience is a mindset that evolves towards the governance dimension, said Eurich, and as a result, local governments have the capacity to adapt and respond quickly with policies and practices designed to mitigate the effects. of climate change.
“We are trying to take lessons from one place like Kiribati or Fiji and implement them in other places to show that adaptive management, fair and inclusive thinking, or a more transparent system between people and their families. environments really help resilience move forward, ”he said. noted.
This research is the result of the Partnership Science for Nature and People (SNAPP) Climate Resilient Fisheries Working Group (external link), which brought together 23 fisheries scientists and practitioners from seven countries at NCEAS.