Climate change

Rising sea level, ocean acidification that threatens shellfish and crustaceans, changing species distribution including introduction of invasive species, and diseases such as lobster shell disease are some of the threats that climate change poses to fisheries.  Coastal communities are at the forefront of observing these threats, and bearing the consequences they could bring. A warming Gulf of Maine brings uncertainty to fishermen, scientists, and managers about the future of fisheries. However, in the face of uncertainty comes new opportunity; in a time of rapid climate change Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries is developing new approaches to fisheries science and policy that can adapt to the variability the future may bring.

Climate change is also the impetus for an ongoing shift in fisheries management approaches, toward the collaborative approach we take. Before climate change, fisheries used historical trends in surveys to predict abundances and make management decisions.  However, in a dynamic situation, what is needed is local observation and good feedback since the change will occur at a local, not regional scale.  We will need fishermen’s participation in science and their everyday observations to make smart decisions in a changing ocean.

These approaches include our groundbreaking Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Co-Management pilot study program that is building sustainable fisheries collaboratively, from the bottom up.  We also participate in the Island Institute’s Climate Action Roundtables, and WeatherBlur, a citizen science program of the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance that that allows communities to develop their own research programs to help them solve a local problem that is related to weather and/or climate changing events.

Ocean temperatures worldwide have risen an average rate of 0.12 degrees C every decade since 1980. According to the National Climate Assessment, from 1982 to 2006, sea surface temperatures in the coastal Northeast warmed by close to twice the global rate. Source: NOAA

Fishermen’s climate roundtables: Coordinated by Island Institute

This is an informal annual event is an opportunity for fishermen to come together and share observations from the past fishing season, discuss potentially longer-term, climate-related changes folks have been noticing while fishing, and learn more about a topic of interest from an invited expert.  This year’s topics: lobster related research priorities of fishermen, strategizing how to most effectively bring research results to fishermen and coastal communities, and the idea of incorporating fishermen’s observations as expert opinion data.

WeatherBlur:  coordinated by Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance

Blurring lines between classroom and community a cutting-edge interactive online platform for communities to explore weather, climate, storms, geomorphology, oceanography, and more.  Weather Blur is a community-based non-hierarchical citizen science platform that allows communities to develop their own research programs, called investigations, to help them solve a local problem that is related to weather and/or climate changing events