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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Adaptability of Pacific North America's small-scale fisheries to climate change Ang, Melanie


This thesis compares and contrasts the projected impacts of climate change on small- and large- scale fisheries and seeks to understand key characteristics of their vulnerability and adaptability to climate change using the Pacific North America region, including Alaska, Canada, USA West Coast and Mexico, as a case study. I undertake an interdisciplinary approach and use both quantitative and qualitative methodologies to examine the ecological and social-economic dimensions of vulnerabilities, impacts and adaptability of climate change on fisheries. I identify 312 exploited species that are important to small- or large- scale fisheries and apply the Dynamic Bioclimate Envelope Model to project changes in maximum catch potentials and their distributions separately for by small- and large- scale fisheries under the upper (RCP 8.5) and lower (RCP 2.6) greenhouse gas emission scenarios between year 2000 and 2080. Subsequently, I apply a vulnerability assessment framework to three case illustrations from the Pacific North America region: Alaska’s cod fishery (USA), Monterey Bay’s wetfish fishery (USA) and Sonora’s cannonball jellyfish fishery (Mexico) to understand key commonalities and differences that would enable small-scale fisheries and large-scale fisheries to adapt to the climate-induced impacts. The results indicate a projected increase in maximum catch potential for small-scale fisheries (RCP 2.6: +1.7%; RCP 8.5: +16.7%) compared to large-scale fisheries (RCP 2.6: -7.2%; RCP 8.5: -10.7%) across the region by 2080 relative to 2000, with varying patterns between different countries’ waters. The increasing trend in catch potential is contributed by a few exploited species with significant projected gains such as California market squid (Loligo opalescens). The ability of fisheries and fishing communities to adapt to these ecological changes will determine their continued viability. Case illustrations suggest that having lower operational cost, flexibility in gear type, flexible management, clear regulations, strong social capital and well-educated communities tend to relate with lower vulnerability and stronger adaptive capacities to climate change.

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