Assessing Vulnerability to a Changing Ocean Investigating impacts and options for adaptation

In certain areas of the US, marine resources and the communities that depend on them are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of ocean and coastal acidification along with other ocean changes. The NOAA Ocean Acidification Program recently awarded funding for three regional vulnerability assessment projects in the Chesapeake Bay, Northeast US and US West Coast. The projects bring together oceanographic, fisheries and aquaculture data and social science to assess vulnerability of dependent communities and industries, anticipate challenges they may face, and explore adaptations options.

Assessing vulnerability of the Atlantic Sea Scallop social-ecological system in the northeast waters of the US

Research Team: Samantha Siedlecki (University of Connecticut), Lisa Colburn (NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center), Shannon Meseck (NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center), Deborah Hart (NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center), David Bethoney (Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation), Catherine Matassa (University of Connecticut), Enrique Curchitser (Rutgers University)

The Atlantic sea scallop fishery brings in more than $500 million per year, is the second highest fisheries revenue in the United States, and the largest wild scallop fishery in the world. The vulnerability and resilience of fishing communities like this to the effects of warming and ocean acidification is determined by their ability to adapt. Understanding just how dependent communities are on this valuable resource, along with the well-being and sustainability of the fishery are key to determining what adaptation and management solutions are best. To do this, the research team will be collaborating with sea scallop fishermen, related industry members, and managers to identify recommendations that will help navigate changes in the fishery that result from projected ocean acidification and temperature changes in the Northeast US.

Vulnerability of oyster aquaculture and restoration to ocean acidification and other co-stressors in the Chesapeake Bay

Research Team: Marjy Freidrichs (Virginia Institute of Marine Science ), Emily Rivest (Virginia Institute of Marine Science ), David Wrathall (Oregon State University), Mark Brush (Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Pierre St-Laurent (Virginia Institute of Marine Science ), Karen Hudson (Virginia Institute of Marine Science ), Bruce Vogt (NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office)

Oyster aquaculture and restoration aren’t new to the Chesapeake Bay, but how coastal acidification and its co-stressors will affect growers, watermen and coastal restoration managers is a question that has yet to be answered. Identifying where and when areas of the bay will move beyond critical thresholds for successful oyster growth along with where and when oyster stakeholders will abandon their ventures are key aspects of this work. The research team will explore how coastal acidification will affect both oyster farming and restoration efforts. With information on if and where it is wise to invest in growing oysters, those whose livelihoods are tied to healthy oysters and a healthy bay will be able to better plan for the future.

Assessing Community Vulnerability to Ocean Acidification Across the California Current Ecosystem

Research Team: Ana K. Spalding (Oregon State University), Arielle Levine (San Diego State University), Tessa Hill (University of California Davis), Lida Teneva (Ocean Science Trust), Erika Wolters (Oregon State University), Justine Kimball (California Ocean Protection Council), Charlotte Whitefield (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Marine resource dependent communities along the West Coast have felt the consequences of a changing ocean. Yet the vulnerability of and capacity to adapt for those who are closely tied to marine resources and their economies are not clear. This capacity depends on community knowledge, networks, and practices, as well as institutional policies and strategies that support adaptation. The research team will assess how six coastal communities in Oregon and California are experiencing environmental vulnerability to ocean acidification and what they are doing to adapt to the impacts. They will also identify barriers to adaptation and coping strategies that can help inform policies to foster and support more resilient communities along the U.S. West Coast moving into the future.


Title image: A recreational fisherperson prepares to cast. Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission image 1: Elizabeth Gianes is preparing for observer training trip in Sandwich Harbor, Massachusetts. Credit: NOAA Fisheries Image 2: callop fishing boats at the Seaford, VA scallop dock. Credit: Deborah Hart , NOAA Fisheries Image 3: Oyster reef construction on Virginia's Lynnhaven River includes moving substrate from a barge into the water to form a reef. Credit: NOAA Fisheries Image 4: Oysters grow at a Washington oyster farm in "flip bags" at low tide. High tide submerges the bags and floats attached to each one raise them in the water column. Credit: NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center Image 5: View from the stern of a recreational fishing boat off the coast of Florida. Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Commision