Climate change is altering the distribution of marine species, causing many to shift away from traditional fishing grounds. When a population shifts, managers must decide who should be allowed to catch the fish in their new location. This can pose challenges, such as difficult trade-offs between fairness and economic efficiency. For example, it might be considered fair to preserve the access rights of the fishermen who currently target the population, but it might be more economically efficient to reallocate access to fishermen who operate nearer to the new location.
To help managers address this challenge, the Lenfest Ocean Program is supporting Dr. Andrew Pershing, with colleagues at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI), to review how various regions and countries have responded to shifting fish populations. They will then develop guidance to inform ongoing deliberations on this issue in the U.S. Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.
To ensure their work is relevant and useful, the researchers will convene an advisory body of managers and stakeholders from the U.S. Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. These advisors will give feedback on the research questions and preliminary findings, as well as suggestions for issues the researchers should consider.
Managers have several options for responding when there is a shift in a fish population, or stock. For example, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission allocates a fixed proportion of the total allowable summer flounder catch to each state, but it allows fishermen to travel to catch the species as it shifts, provided they bring it to port in their home states. In contrast, U.S. and Canadian managers reallocate Georges Bank haddock between the two countries to align with the shifting distribution, but they do not let fishermen cross the international boundary to fish.
In this project, the research team will characterize different types of allocation systems used across multiple fisheries and policy contexts around the world, and compare their experiences adapting to shifting stocks. The research team will then describe a range of options for adaptation and provide guidance on the benefits and challenges of each. They will refine this guidance based on input from the advisory body and from focus groups of fishermen and managers.
The research project will have four phases:
The project will continue through 2021. It aims to produce two peer-reviewed publications that discuss climate stressors and classify different allocation schemes. The research team also aims to present its guidance for adaptation to shifting stocks directly to management bodies in the U.S. Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.
For any questions, please contact Emily Knight, Manager, Lenfest Ocean Program, at [email protected] To learn more about this research and stay up to date on our latest projects, follow us on Twitter @lenfestocean or sign up for our newsletter at lenfestocean.org.
Dr. Andrew Pershing, GMRI
Dr. Lisa Kerr, GMRI
Jonathan Labaree, GMRI