Texas A&M University research on West Coast fisheries management awarded NSF funding

RESEARCH & TRAINING WEEK

A new National Science Foundation (NSF) Convergence Accelerator-funded research project led by Texas A&M University scientists is tackling the threats that climate change poses on US West Coast communities dependent on fisheries.

The project is a large multi-institutional endeavour, led by Piers Chapman, research professor in the Department of Oceanography, and brings together scientists from academia, federal agencies and industry.

The project will last for one year and is funded at US$750,000. If successful, the team will be eligible to compete for an additional two-year project funded at up to US$5 million.

“We will develop new models and tools that will help keep California, Oregon, and Washington coast fisheries communities sustainable in the face of ongoing decadal-scale climate change,” Professor Chapman said.

Project partners include scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the Scripps Institution for Oceanography, the University of Texas at Austin, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations.

Climate change-driven adverse ocean impacts are already hitting many coastal, fishing-dependent communities, including Tribal Nations located on the US West Coast. These adverse impacts will likely accelerate for the foreseeable future, the researchers said.

“Climate change is causing increasing temperatures in ocean waters, as well as decreased oxygen concentrations,” said Colleen Petrik, a co-principal investigator on the project and an assistant professor at the Scripps Institution. “These changes have serious effects on fish and shellfish stocks along the West Coast of the US, as they can reduce suitable habitat, alter breeding success and affect migration routes.”

Combining ecosystem modeling, high-resolution climate modeling, social science and fisheries stakeholder engagement, communication, geographic information science (GIS), and fisheries management science, the multidisciplinary team will ultimately produce a climate-informed decision support system (DSS) called Sustainable Blue for the region’s fisheries.

“The overall aim of the project is to deliver the Sustainable Blue DSS that combines the output of a series of high-resolution climate model simulations and predictions with local knowledge, fisheries management policy, and decision-making tools to provide the necessary information for fisheries management and other decision-makers to respond to changing climatic conditions,” said Ping Chang, professor of oceanography at Texas A&M.

The project will enable fisheries managers to make better long-term decisions on fish catches and fleet management.

More great content as part of this week’s Research and Training Week right here.


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