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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Scenarios for coastal First Nations' fisheries under climate change : impacts, resilience and adaptation potential Weatherdon, Lauren Vanessa


Recent studies have demonstrated ways in which climate-related shifts in the distribution and relative abundance of marine species are expected to alter the dynamics and catch potential of global fisheries. While these studies focus on assessing impacts to commercial fisheries, few efforts have been made to quantitatively project impacts to small-scale fisheries that are economically, socially and culturally important to many coastal communities. This study uses a dynamic bioclimate envelope model to project scenarios of climate-related changes in the relative abundance, distribution and richness of 98 exploited marine fishes and invertebrates that are of commercial and cultural importance to First Nations in coastal British Columbia, Canada. Declines in relative abundance are projected for most of the sampled species (n = 84 to 95; x̅ = -15.0% to -20.8%) under both the lower and upper scenarios of climate change, with poleward range shifts occurring at a mean rate of 2.9 and 4.5 kilometres decade-1 for fishes and 2.7 to 3.4 kilometres decade-1 for invertebrates within BC’s exclusive economic zone. While cumulative declines in catch potential are projected to occur coastwide (-4.5 to -10.7%), estimates suggest a strong positive correlation between relative catch potential and latitude, with First Nations’ territories along the north and central coasts experiencing less severe declines than those to the south. Furthermore, a strong negative correlation is projected between latitude and the number of species exhibiting declining abundance. These trends are shown to be robust to alternative species distribution models, and highlight key management challenges that are likely to be encountered under climate change. Drawing from an interdisciplinary literature review of First Nations’ traditional fisheries management strategies and historical responses to changes in the availability of aquatic resources, a scenario-based framework is applied to explore climate-resilient pathways for First Nations’ fisheries given quantitative projections. Findings suggest that joint-management frameworks incorporating First Nations’ traditional ecological knowledge could aid in offsetting impacts and developing site-specific mitigation and adaptation strategies. This interdisciplinary framework thereby facilitates proactive discussions of potential mitigation and adaptation strategies deriving from local fishers’ knowledge that could be used to respond to a range of climate change scenarios.

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