Socio-ecological vulnerability of fisheries to the changing climate in Canada’s Pacific region

Karen Hunter (1), Joy Wade(2), Kim Hyatt (3), Ian Perry (4)

1 Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Biological Station, 3190 Hammond Bay Road, Nanaimo, BC, Canada V9T 6N7, karen.hunter@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

2 Fundy Aqua Services, 1859 Delanice Way, Nanoose Bay, BC V9P 9B3, joywadefundyaqua@gmail.com

3 Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Biological Station, 3190 Hammond Bay Road, Nanaimo, BC, Canada V9T 6N7, kim.hyatt@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

4 Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Biological Station, 3190 Hammond Bay Road, Nanaimo, BC, Canada V9T 6N7, ian.perry@dfo- mpo.gc.ca

The fisheries of Canada’s Pacific coast rely on a highly diverse fish assemblage that is already observing impacts of climate variation and change. The region’s commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries support significant foodways and employment for the coastal population. Though the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has studied regional climate impacts and risks, it is not known which species and fisheries may be most vulnerable to continued changes in climate and ocean systems. This project was initiated to develop a protocol to inform ecological and economic branches of fisheries vulnerability in the new climate. We adapted a semi-quantitative climate change vulnerability assessment scoring framework by including sensitivity and adaptive capacity attributes to determine the relative vulnerability of 12 regionally important commercial fisheries. The derived scores were combined with a geospatial assessment of projected climate conditions in managed fishing zones.  The assessment arrives at social-ecological vulnerability by assessing regulatory and socio-economic aspects of each fishery and characteristics of its dependent communities in combination with georeferenced ecological vulnerability. Key drivers of fisheries vulnerability and limitations to climate change adaptation in Pacific region are identified.

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