A school of closely-packed sardines swim past, bathed in bright blue light

Climate-Based Flexible Fisheries Management

Exploring possible avenues to implement science-based policy to expand fishery resilience

By jeffrey.palm

In the coming years, climate change is predicted to cause highly variable and more extreme impacts on our planet’s natural resources. These are resources we rely on and benefit from on a daily basis. Considering this, we are challenged to develop innovative management solutions to mitigate these impacts and adapt to them when necessary. To do so effectively, we must work to integrate science-based solutions into actionable policy in order to protect our valuable natural resources and systems. Achieving this goal is what inspired me to pursue my master’s degree in environmental policy and management at the University of California, Davis.

Through my master’s program, I partnered with California Ocean Science Trust (OST) to advance a project investigating flexible management solutions for fisheries in response to climate change implications. This has included a multitude of tasks, notably summarizing current Pacific groundfish management plans, conducting a literature review on the 2003 Pacific Groundfish Buyback program and Mesoamerican Reef Insurance program, and researching comparable case studies encompassing flexible fisheries management in practice. This work will support faculty at UC Davis as they analyze flexible management strategies for federally managed fisheries. Additionally, I have conducted stakeholder engagement for my research, which included conversations with individuals at the California Fish and Game Commission and Pacific Fishery Management Council. This work has provided key foundational knowledge and guidance as the project transitions into the next phase, which will likely include a focus group, among other initiatives, to ensure scientific research is guided by stakeholder interests and the findings inform future policy decisions.

Natural resources such as fisheries are highly valuable to communities as a source of food, economic stability, cultural significance, and ecosystem health. With a proactive approach to amending fisheries management practices, communities will be better equipped for climate disasters and fishery stocks will be more resilient to climate impacts. I firmly believe in the power of science-based solutions to provide co-benefits for society and our oceans. Through this partnership with OST, I have been able to contribute to a project that may better protect our oceans and prepare communities, and I look forward to continuing this work as I complete my master’s degree and pursue a career in marine resource management.

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