Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 8839
Title: Managing living marine resources in a dynamic environment: the role of seasonal to decadal climate forecasts
Author: Desiree Tommasi, Alistair J. Hobday, R. D. Methot, I. C. Kaplan, J. Paige Eveson, K. K. Holsman, Timothy J. Miller, Sarah K. Gaichas, Marion Gehlen, Andy Pershing, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Rym Msadek, Tom Delworth, Mark Eakin, M. A. Haltuch, Roland Sefarian, Claire Spillman, Jason R. Hartog, S. A. Siedlecki, J. F. Samhouri, Barbara Muhling, Rebecca Ash, M. L. Pinsky, Vincent Saba, Sarah Kapnick, Carlos F. Gaitan, Ryan R. Rykaczewski, Michael A. Alexander, Yan Xue, Kathy Pegion, Patrick D. Lynch, Mark R. Payne, Trond Kristiansen, Patrick Lehodey, Cisco Werner
Publication Year: 2017
Journal: Progress in Oceanography
Volume: 152
Pages: 15-49
Keywords: decadal climate forecasts,seasonal climate forecasts,living marine resources,management

Recent developments in global dynamical climate prediction systems have allowed for skillful predictions of climate variables relevant to living marine resources (LMRs) at a scale useful to understanding and managing LMRs. Such predictions present opportunities for improved LMR management and industry operations, as well as new research avenues in fisheries science. LMRs respond to climate variability via changes in physiology and behavior. For species and systems where climate-fisheries links are well established, forecasted LMR responses can lead to anticipatory and more effective decisions, benefitting both manages and stakeholders. Here, we provide an overview of climate prediction systems and advances in seasonal to decadal prediction of marine-resource relevant environmental variables. We then describe the range of climate-sensitive LMR decisions that are taken at lead times of months to decades, before highlighting a range of pioneering case studies using climate predictions to inform LMR decisions.  The success of these case studies suggests that many additional applications are possible.  Progress, however, is limited by diverse observational and modeling challenges.  Priority developments include strengthening of the mechanistic linkages between climate and marine resource responses, development of LMR models able to explicitly represent such responses, integration of climate driven LMR dynamics in the multi-driver context within which marine resources exist, and improved prediction of ecosystem-relevant variables at the fine regional scales at which most marine resource decisions are made.  While there are fundamental limits to predictability, continued advances in these areas has considerable potential to make LMR managers and industry decision more resilient to climate variability and help sustain valuable resources. Concerted dialog between scientists, LMR managers and industry is essential to realizing this potential.


The objective of this paper is to assess present and potential uses of these advances in seasonal to decadal climate predictions to facilitate improved management of wild and cultured LMRs.  This effort was initiated at the workshop "Applications of Seasonal to Decadal Climate Predictions for Marine Resource Management" held at Princeton University on June 3-5 2015, which brought together 60 scientists spanning climate and marine resource disciplines. This resulting synthesis establishes a common understanding of the prospects and challenges of seasonal-to-decadal forecasts for LMRs to support further innovative and effective application of climate predictions to management decisions. In Section 2, we describe climate prediction systems and discuss their strengths and limitations. In Section 3, we briefly summarize climate-sensitive decisions made within management of commercially exploited species, protected and endangered species, and for fishing and aquaculture industry applications. Section 4 presents case studies drawn from peer-reviewed literature highlighting the scope of past and present applications.  Sections 5 and 6 distill successful components across these existing applications and identify priority developments, respectively, based on the material in Sections 2-4.  Section 7 offers concluding remarks on prospects for expanded use of climate predictions for marine resource management.

Theme: Ecosystem approach to improve management of marine resources
Foci: Understand how climate influences ecosystem variability.