Adaptive Systems for Climate-Ready Fisheries Management

Fishery managers can balance tradeoffs to design climate-ready systems that enable fishers and fishing communities to adapt to climate change without jeopardizing long-run ocean sustainability.



May 16, 2024


Matthew N. Reimer, Anthony Rogers, and James Sanchirico


Working Paper

Reading time

1 minute


Climate change is expected to increase short-run shocks and extreme events in oceanic conditions. Fishery managers are considering how to design climate-ready systems that enable fishers and fishing communities to adapt to these events without jeopardizing the long-run sustainability of the ocean ecosystem. This paper highlights a suite of potential policy options already employed by fishery managers worldwide. Although these options have been designed to address unique conditions in particular settings, it is valuable to understand whether and how they might be extrapolated to other settings to increase fishers’ adaptive capacity. We take a first-principles approach by considering what constitutes a fishery and then discussing how managers can increase adaptive capacity across internal and external margins conditional on the fishery definition. We contribute to the literature on climate-ready fisheries by expanding the discussion on adaptive capacity to include both internal and external margins, whereas the literature has focused on external margins for reducing barriers to entry. We also discuss the scientific and political economy challenges and trade-offs of introducing adaptive capacity into the US fishery management system. Ultimately, the benefits of doing so must be weighed against the risks of compromising a highly prescriptive system critical for achieving fishery sustainability.


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