Date of Award
© 2022 Sophie A. Swetz
Professional Science Master's (PSM) In Ocean Food Systems
Barry Antonio Costa-Pierce
Climate-driven warming in the U.S. Northeast Shelf (NES) has led to changes in the spatial distributions of many marine resources. Shifts and expansions of commercially important fish stocks pose major challenges to fishermen and fisheries managers in this region. American lobster (Homarus americanus) in the Gulf of Maine (GOM) is one of these impacted stocks and is projected to continue its shift towards more northern and offshore areas. Continued ocean warming could potentially reduce the GOM lobster stock by up to 60% over the next several decades. Given Maine’s reliance on its lobster fishery—which contributes over 80% of the value of Maine’s commercially harvested marine resources—building climate resilience into the fisheries social-ecological system is critical. Southern New England (SNE) serves as an example of a region that has already experienced much of the changes posed to impact the GOM. Through semi-structured interviews with SNE and GOM fishermen and a focus group of NES fisheries managers, black sea bass (Centropristis striata) was identified as a potential opportunity for fishermen to adapt to climate-driven changes. However, existing barriers—such as permitting, quota allocations, and bycatch regulations—prohibit the region’s fishermen from actualizing emerging opportunities. Results indicated that these barriers are not insurmountable and implementing “social-ecological management” approaches could provide viable pathways to facilitate opportunities and bolster climate resilience in the GOM.
Swetz, S. 2022. Climate-driven stock shifts and expansions in the U.S. Northeast Shelf: identifying challenges, opportunities, and barriers through fishermen and manager perspectives. Graduate Program in Ocean Food Systems, School of Marine & Environmental Programs, University of New England, Biddeford, Maine, USA