Task 12: Climate Resilient Fisheries

Award Period
Award Amount
Agency Name
Nature Conservancy
Award Number
PI First Name
PI Last Name
Chris Free
Area/s of Research
Climate Change Science

Climate change is impacting California’s marine ecosystems through long-term warming trends and shorter-term extreme environmental events. These events, such as marine heatwaves (MHWs) and Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), are causing changes in species/fisheries distribution and productivity that have led to fishery disasters, fishery closures, and mass mortality events along the entire US west coast. The California Chapter of the Nature Conservancy (TNC) is addressing these challenges directly by engaging in efforts to test climate-ready fisheries management models and inform state and federal fisheries managers and policymakers. Ensuring sustainable and climate-ready fisheries management requires: (1) understanding the historical climate change and extreme environmental events on California’s fisheries; (2) predicting the impact of continued climate change and extreme events on California’s fisheries; and (3) developing and testing management strategies for increasing resilience to future stressors in innovative simulation environments.

The goals of this project are to complete and extend ongoing work by TNC California seeking to document the impacts of historical climate change and extreme events on California’s fisheries and to use this understanding to design and test innovative climate-ready management strategies. First, the researcher will lead the development of a manuscript documenting quantitative impacts of historical warming and marine heatwaves on the fisheries of the North American west coast. Second, the researcher will lead the development of a manuscript on the opportunities for parametric fisheries insurance to incentivize climate-ready fisheries management while reducing risk for fishers. Third, the researcher will submit a paper predicting toxin contamination in marine harvested species to guide dynamic ocean management, as well as a manuscript evaluating static vs dynamic bycatch reduction measures in the California halibut trawl and gillnet fisheries. Lastly, the researcher will support the TNC CA Fisheries strategy in scoping and prioritizing new bodies of work in the North America Region, Micronesia, and Hawai’i, as needed.