NSF funds Texas A&M research into West Coast fisheries management
Climate change poses new threats to fishing-dependent communities on the west coast. A new research project funded by the National Science Foundation’s Convergence Accelerator and led by scientists from Texas A&M University is addressing these challenges using cutting-edge modeling and decision-making technologies.
The project is a large multi-institutional company, led by Piers Chapman, teacher-researcher at Department of Oceanography, and brings together scientists from academia, federal agencies and industry.
NSF Convergence Accelerator Program aims to produce tangible solutions to societal challenges on a national scale which cannot be solved by single disciplines but which require innovative ideas, approaches and technologies from a wide range of sectors and expertise. Aligned with the 2021 cohort of the program, the project will last one year and is funded at $ 750,000. If successful, the team will be eligible to compete for an additional two-year project funded to the tune of $ 5 million.
“We will develop new models and tools that will help maintain the sustainability of coastal fishing communities in California, Oregon and Washington in the face of ongoing climate change on a decadal scale,” Chapman said.
Chapman will lead the project, along with the co-principal investigators Gokhan Danabasoglu, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR); Colleen Petrik, co-principal investigator of the project and assistant professor at the Scripps Institution for Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego; Keri stephens, also co-principal investigator on the project and professor of communication studies at the University of Texas at Austin; and Zhe Zhang, assistant professor of geography at Texas A&M.
Project partners also include Ping chang, professor of oceanography at Texas A&M; Jaison Kurian, assistant researcher in the Department of Oceanography; Desiree Tommasi, NOAA project scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Marine Ecosystems and Climate at the University of California, Santa Cruz; Matthew Long, marine scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Monica Morrison, postdoctoral researcher at NCAR; and Glen Spain, Northwest Regional Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations.
The adverse effects of climate change on the oceans are already hitting many fishing-dependent coastal communities, including tribal nations on the west coast of the United States. These negative impacts are likely to accelerate for the foreseeable future, the researchers said.
“Climate change is causing temperatures in ocean waters to increase, as well as decreasing oxygen concentrations,” said Petrik. “These changes are having serious effects on fish and shellfish stocks along the west coast of the United States, as they can reduce suitable habitat, alter reproductive success, and affect migration routes.”
The team aims to help preserve these communities and their ways of life, both economically and culturally. Communicating effectively with various stakeholders is a challenge, but vital to the success of the project, said Stephens.
Combining the powers of ecosystem modeling, high resolution climate modeling, social science and fisheries stakeholder engagement, communication, geographic information science (GIS) and science of fisheries management, the multidisciplinary team will ultimately produce a climate-sensitive decision support system (DSS). called Sustainable Blue for the region’s fisheries.
“The overall objective of the project is to provide the Sustainable Blue DSS which combines the result of a series of high resolution climate model simulations and forecasts with local knowledge, fisheries management policy and harvesting tools. decision to provide the necessary information for fishing. management and other decision-makers to respond to changing climatic conditions, ”Chang said.
The project will enable fisheries managers to make better long-term decisions about fish catches and fleet management.
“Stakeholders will use an easy-to-use web-based system that will give them access to the information they need,” said Zhang.