Dr Rebecca Selden1, James Thorson2, Jameal Samhouri3, Steven Bograd4, Stephanie Brodie4, Gemma Carroll4, Melissa Haltuch3, Elliott Hazen4, Kristin Holsman2, Malin Pinsky1, Ellen Willis-Norton5
1Rutgers University, New Brunswick, United States, 2NOAA AFSC, Seattle, United States, 3NOAA NWFSC, Seattle, United States, 4NOAA SWFSC, Monterey, United States, 5University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, United States
Climate change is happening at a pace too fast to ignore, especially for coastal communities that rely on ocean resources as a source of livelihood. Environmentally-driven changes in the distribution and biomass of fish stocks require fishing communities to rapidly adapt in order to cope. Here, we examined temporal trends in stock availability of five major target species (dover sole, thornyheads, sablefish, lingcod, and petrale sole) to United States west coast fishing ports over the last 40 years. We then evaluated if and how fisheries respond to changes in stock availability. The synergistic effects of species distribution and biomass changes led to substantial differences in stock availability to ports spread across an 11° latitudinal gradient. As such, shifts in species distributions could either exacerbate or buffer against regional changes in stock biomass. For example, overall stock availability of sablefish was more stable in southern ports where a 40% regional decline in biomass was counterbalanced by a southward shift in distribution of >200 km since 2003. In the majority of fishing ports, landings matched trends in stock availability, with declines in landings occurring with declines in availability and vice versa. Uniquely, lingcod landings lagged increased stock availability potentially due to the impact of management restrictions implemented for other species. For others, management changes and economic forces likely drove a decoupling of landings from availability. We conclude that the greatest insights about human responses to shifting distributions of fishery species will come from fully coupled social-ecological analyses of global change.
Rebecca Selden is a Nereus Senior Postdoctoral Fellow at Rutgers University. She received her PhD from UC Santa Barbara, and bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College. In the fall, she will begin as an assistant professor of marine biology at Wellesley College.