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NOAA Hosts Fisheries Community Resiliency Workshop

Jul 26, 2017
2017 Issue 2

Last month NOAA’s Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office and Northeast Fisheries Science Center convened a group of community leaders, researchers, state and Federal agency representatives, and members of the fishing industry to strategize on how best to address community resilience within the region. This workshop spanned two days, June 27 – 28, and individuals from the different sectors spoke about various aspects of community resilience related to fisheries.

The workshop supports NOAA’s strategic goal to strengthen community resilience to ensure sustainable fisheries, recovery of protected resources, and healthy marine habitats. This includes addressing vulnerabilities in changing infrastructure and economic diversity due to ecological, regulatory, and economic conditions. The workshop was an opportunity for communities to speak directly to NOAA representatives about how NOAA might assist with or contribute to community resilience.

Coastal communities need to be able to sustain and utilize available resources despite ever changing situations. Managing sustainable fisheries is a major concern as many coastal communities are economically dependent on the fishing industry. Jen Levin from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute spoke during the community innovator portion of the workshop about the work that GMRI is doing to build markets for sashimi-grade seafood products from the Gulf of Maine. As the allowable catch for many high value species decreases, this market would allow fishermen to garner the highest possible price for the diversity of seafood products that they do land.

However, resilience in fisheries is not the only concern amongst these coastal towns and cities. Climate change, storms, and growing populations have exacerbated existing problems and created new ones.

The mayor of Newburyport, Donna Holaday, spoke about the issue of erosion that the town of Newburyport, MA is facing along one of the town’s barrier islands, Plum Island. The port director in New Bedford, MA, Ed Anthes-Washburn, addressed the impacts that sea level rise will have on the port and how that affects the planning process for the future of the port. Sea level rise is a concern that most coastal communities are facing, however a unique concern in New Bedford relates to their hurricane barrier. The barrier, constructed in 1966 to help prevent flooding, will provide some protection to the area as sea level rises. However the gates in the barrier (which allow for boat traffic in and out of the port) will need to be shut more often creating a bottleneck when entering and exiting the port.

These were only a few presentations amongst many. Individuals and organizations within the greater Atlantic region are aware of the different vulnerabilities in their coastal communities and are focused on creating resiliency options. This workshop and the ideas that were presented will help NOAA identify areas in their various regional offices where they can assist communities in adapting to a changing climate and economy.

The workshop report will be published on the NOAA GARFO website in the coming weeks.