Environmental Protection Agency Narragansett Bay Commission University of Rhode Island Office of Marine Programs

Estuarine Science

Global Environmental Changes: Coping Stategies

Three strategies are available to cope with the effects of climate change on sea-level rise in the Northeast: to retreat from advancing seas, accommodate changes imposed by a higher sea level, or protect areas/structures from sea level rise. All three coping strategies could be more effectively applied through education efforts that help concerned parties cope with potential coastal changes and avoid putting themselves in harms' way to begin with.

All stakeholders should be educated about the risks of building in hazard-prone areas and the potential for changes in storm frequency, intensity, and sea level. Few strategies are now available to the fishing industry to cope with potential impacts of climate change. Climate change impacts will vary stream by stream, depending on whether and how stream flow is affected. However, one strategy is to fish for alternative species. Fisheries managers also could shift stocking patterns in favor of more cool and warm-water fish species. Education might increase the perceived attractiveness of cool and warm water species as well. Changes in the distribution and composition of fish populations will impact the economy of the region's fisheries and will require adjustments in those fisheries. Winter flounder accounted for half of the total income earned by coastal fishermen in one New England port, but now provides them with no significant income. Lobster catches however, are on the increase. The increase in lobster could provide an economic benefit, but fisheries will have to work to create market demand for the other newly established fish and shellfish populations, which will change with the climate.




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