Climate change is already impacting Alaska fisheries and marine ecosystems, and the people, businesses, and communities who depend on them. The Council and its stakeholders are witnessing the impacts of climate change on federally managed fisheries, particularly through the impacts of marine heatwaves that have contributed to rapid changes in the Northern Bering Sea, the decline of Pacific Cod in the Gulf of Alaska, and the collapse of eastern Bering Sea snow crab.
The Council has already made progress toward integrating ecosystem and climate information into the harvest specifications process, and identifying opportunities to build climate resilience and readiness through the work of the Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan Climate Change Task Force. Looking ahead, the Council will continue to meet the challenges of climate change through new ways of bringing ecosystem and climate information into the management process, supporting a Council process that is both proactive and responsive, and including stakeholders in building climate readiness.
In the next four years (2024-2027), the Council will advance climate readiness and planning with support provided to the regional fishery management councils through the Inflation Reduction Act. This page will be updated regularly with information about the Council’s climate readiness work and opportunities for public engagement.
Staff contact is Katie Latanich. If you are interested to receive occasional updates about the Council’s climate readiness work, including information and reminders about the June 2024 Climate Scenarios Workshop, please click to join our Climate Readiness Mailing List. Information about the workshop will also be posted to this page.
The Council is holding a two-day Climate Scenarios Workshop on Wednesday, June 5th and Thursday, June 6th in conjunction with the Council’s June meeting in Kodiak, AK. Visit the workshop page for more information and updates,
Updated February 2024
In January 2024 the Council submitted a proposal to NMFS for funds to support climate readiness planning, through a funding opportunity available to the Councils under the Inflation Reduction Act. The Council’s proposal focuses on building climate readiness through three linked pathways that build upon existing work:
Develop a climate-resilient management policy
The Council intends to develop an updated, ecosystem-based fishery management policy and objectives for all NPFMC fishery management plans to prepare to meet current and future challenges, including adapting to the effects of climate change. The Council will achieve this by undertaking a programmatic evaluation of Alaska federal fisheries, which is an opportunity to identify specific areas of the management program that are a priority for policy adjustment and/or to identify and develop a workplan for future measures to implement the new policy. The Council supports a transparent, inclusive, and meaningful process to develop the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement.
Continue work to incorporate local and traditional knowledge
The Council recently adopted a Local and Traditional Knowledge (LKTK) protocol and recommendations for “onramps” to bring this knowledge into Council processes. Next steps would build upon this work and direction from the Council and the LKTK Taskforce by exploring opportunities to apply and extend the protocol and onramps to all Alaska regions and fisheries, and by developing procedures for staff to appropriately include LKTK in amendment analyses.
Strengthen the consideration of uncertainty and risk in harvest specifications
Through this work the Council will build on recommendations from the SSC’s February 2023 workshop on rapid change in the northern Bering and southern Chukchi Seas and the recent Seventh National Scientific Coordination Subcommittee (SCS7) workshop on adapting fisheries management to a changing ecosystem. This stream of work could include non-FMP adjustments, such as reassessing time periods used to define productivity of crab and groundfish; new ways of incorporating and reviewing economic and socioeconomic information as part of TAC setting; and adjustments that would require a crab and/or groundfish FMP amendment, such as harvest control rules and changes to the tier system.
Public participation and communication are critical to the success of this important work. The Council’s proposal includes funding for several workshops in support of IRA-funded projects, as a means to allow a more informal and open dialogue among Council, SSC, and AP members and stakeholders and Tribal entities as these projects develop. Council staff will provide regular updates on IRA-funded work, and develop concise, plain language materials.
In June 2023, the Council drafted a purpose and need statement and alternatives to guide a programmatic evaluation of the federally managed fisheries under the Council’s jurisdiction in the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, and Aleutian Islands. The proposed action is to revise the management policy and objectives for those fisheries in such a way that would enable the Council to develop and implement climate-resiliency tools; new pathways to incorporate indigenous, local, and traditional knowledge; and new tools to assess and adapt to risk in the face of additional uncertainty in stock status and distribution due to climate driven marine ecosystem changes.
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires all Federal agencies to consider the environmental effects of their proposed actions. A “programmatic” environmental impact statement (PEIS) is broad in scope, and addresses a policy, plan, or program rather than one specific management action, such as a single FMP amendment. The purpose of any EIS is to support informed decision making and provide the public with information about the action and processes. NEPA, however, does not mandate particular results or substantive outcomes. Accordingly, the PEIS evaluating the Council’s proposed action to revise its management policy, goals, and objectives is not meant to be action-forcing, in that it will not mandate particular results or substantive outcomes. The programmatic evaluation is a pathway for the Council to articulate a strategic vision for the future of its managed fisheries, and explicitly link the Council’s work on climate readiness, ecosystem-based management, and integration of diverse knowledge sources.
Through the programmatic evaluation process, the Council may
- Develop a climate-resilient management policy, goals, and objectives for all fisheries under Council jurisdiction
- Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of current management approaches for supporting climate resilience
- Consider different approaches to policies, knowledge pathways, and management tools for achieving climate resilience.
Once the Council selects and NMFS implements a new management policy(ies), goals, and objectives, there may be follow-on actions necessary and/or appropriate to implement that new management policy, goals, and objectives. The PEIS can continue to guide a strategic work plan for future Council consideration and implementation of FMP management measures changes to be more responsive to climate impacts.
Staff lead: Sara Cleaver