Supporting Fishery and Fishing Community Resilience Initiative

The MSA’s National Standard 8 requires that fisheries management measures “take into account the importance of fishery resources to fishing communities by utilizing economic and social data . . . in order to (A) provide for the sustained participation of such communities, and (B) to the extent practicable, minimize adverse economic impacts on such communities.”  Many Council decisions, however, have been necessarily focused on meeting the conservation requirements of the Act, with little room for considering how best to provide for the sustained participation of fishing communities. 

This initiative would address National Standard 8 across FMPs and would follow up on the CCI by addressing part of that initiative’s original goal to “develop strategies for increasing the resiliency of our managed stocks and fisheries” in the face of near-term climate shift and long-term climate change. It would evaluate the resilience of West Coast fishing communities to climate change in the context of current or potential harvest policies under consideration by the Council.  Additionally, it would engage the Council, Council staff, management teams, advisory bodies, IEA scientists, and others to consider existing vulnerabilities of communities, climate forecasts, and the CCI scenarios in light of existing or emerging harvest-setting processes and approaches.

Background work for this initiative would assess the current state of knowledge about available indices of fishing community vulnerability and resilience to changes in availability of fishery resources.  The Council would also need to know which fishing communities are most closely tied to which fisheries, and whether those communities undergo cyclical within-year effects from shifts in fishery management programs.  Council advisory bodies would need to be consulted to identify one or more Council decision processes that may discernibly impact community resilience.

The Council could begin this initiative with a review of the discussion materials and comments received during the CCI on the potential effects of climate change on fishery resources and fishing communities.  Further implementing the initiative could include: (i) review and adoption of a set of attributes to use for understanding vulnerability and assessing resilience of fishing communities, and a baseline assessment of resilience for specific communities; (ii) development of conceptual models for how Council actions have affected or may affect these attributes, aligned with current or possible future Council actions under consideration; (iii) identification of current or potential future harvest-setting processes of interest, and analysis of their impacts on community resilience under climate change and the CCI scenarios; (iv) determination of actions that could be taken to bolster community resilience, with a clear delineation between those that are either within or beyond the Council’s authorities. The outputs from (iii) and (iv) could be used alongside other, conventional outputs to inform Council processes. This initiative would be relevant to FEP objectives 1b, 2b, 3c, and 6c.