Climate change is impacting the California marine ecosystem, creating warmer, more acidic, and less productive oceans, as well as extreme environmental events that are causing fishery disasters, fishery closures, and 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 and accelerate uptake of climate-ready fisheries management models by state fisheries managers and policymakers. An important component of ensuring sustainable and climate-ready fisheries management involves understanding the broad range of impacts from extreme environmental events, such as marine heatwaves, as climate change continues. One of the current challenges facing California’s fisheries managers is that without a comprehensive understanding of recent marine heatwave impacts, such as changes in fisheries distribution and productivity, it is difficult to design and implement new management strategies that adaptively and proactively mitigate these impacts.
Under this Task Agreement, Camila Vargas Poulsen (Researcher) will assist in curating time series of port-level fisheries landings data on the North American West Coast spanning Baja to Alaska. This will involve scraping data from downloaded PDF files, transferring it to Excel, and performing rigorous quality control to ensure successful scraping. This will contribute towards efforts to understand how fisheries landings have shifted spatially and what these impacts have been on fishing communities. The Researcher will also assist in building a spatial-temporal timeline of fisheries closures on the North American West Coast spanning Baja to Alaska. This will involve visiting agency websites to find announcements of the spatial extent of closures (e.g., latitude or landmark), the duration of the closure, and the reason for the closure. This will contribute towards understanding the impacts of climate change on fisheries communities via closures of fisheries. Finally, the Researcher will assist in collating coast-wide data and resources on the monitoring of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and toxin contamination in seafood. This will contribute towards understanding how different levels of monitoring facilitate more or less nimble fisheries closures that occur due to contaminated seafood.