The California Current Ecosystem (CCE), which brings cold, nutrient-rich waters to the U.S. West Coast, supports a range of important fisheries off California, Oregon, and Washington. In recent years, climate-driven changes in the CCE – from warming temperatures to ocean acidification and toxic algal blooms – are disrupting ocean habitats and species, and, by extension, the social and economic fabric of fishing communities on the coast.
The Lenfest Ocean Program is funding Dr. Phillip Levin, The Nature Conservancy/University of Washington, and Dr. Alison Cullen, University of Washington, to assess the social and ecological vulnerability of fishing communities to climate change with a focus on federally managed fisheries off California, Oregon, and Washington. They will use a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches to estimate three components of vulnerability:
- magnitude of climate impacts on ecosystems;
- extent to which those impacts will be felt by fishing communities; and
- capacity of communities to respond or adapt.
They will then use these results to evaluate potential outcomes of different management actions for ecosystems and communities. The researchers aim to align their work with the Pacific Fisheries Management Council Climate and Communities Initiative.