Can Flexible Fishing Permits Lessen Climate Stress on California Fisheries?

Can Flexible Fishing Permits Lessen Climate Stress on California Fisheries?

Recent extreme events caused by a confluence of climate-driven ocean changes are threatening marine ecosystems and fishing communities on the West Coast. For example, the California Dungeness crab fishery, one of the most valuable in the state, has in recent years endured sudden delays and closures due to warming ocean temperatures, bouts of domoic acid contamination, and increased fishing vessel interactions with whales as their feeding and migration patterns change.

In 2019, the California Ocean Science Trust convened state fisheries managers and stakeholders in a workshop to explore new approaches to fisheries management in the face of climate change. One suggestion that emerged was a flexible fishery permit system, which would provide rules that allow fishermen to adapt in real time.

Little is known about the applicability of permit flexibility in real-world contexts, including how best to integrate such a system with existing fishery policy and ecosystem conservation efforts. The Lenfest Ocean Program is funding Dr. James Sanchirico and Dr. Matt Reimer, both of University of California, Davis, to team up with California Ocean Science Trust to explore whether flexible fishing permits could help reduce the impacts of a changing climate on state and federal fisheries in California.

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