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Building fishing community resilience to harmful algal blooms Public Deposited

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  • The ‘blob’ of anomalously warm surface water that persisted in the North Pacific Ocean from 2013-2016 resulted in a massive harmful algal bloom (HAB) of Pseudo-nitzschia along the entire U.S. west coast. The bloom produced record-breaking concentrations of domoic acid, a marine neurotoxin, that contaminated seafood and necessitated fisheries harvest closures beginning in May 2015. The subsequent closures were unprecedented in both geographic extent and length. Coastal communities dependent on the lucrative commercial Dungeness crab and popular recreational razor clam fisheries were severely impacted. Here we assess the social, cultural and economic impacts of the 2015 HAB event across 17 fishing communities on the U.S. west coast using primary survey data. The survey instrument, deployed in the summer of 2017, collected data on sociodemographic and economic factors hypothesized to affect a community’s ability to cope with HAB events. Within a community disaster resilience framework, impacts are expected to be influenced by community social vulnerability, dependence on commercial and recreational fisheries, and any immediate adaptive responses. Preliminary analysis of the data indicates that community members in fishing-related occupations experienced greater impacts compared to those in other occupations. Furthermore, individuals who obtain a high proportion of income from Dungeness crab landings or razor clam harvests experienced increased vulnerability. Increased social resilience was associated with higher levels of education and access to alternate job opportunities. As climate change advances and HABs worsen, these results will inform efforts to prepare for HABs, mitigate their impacts, and aid recovery of impacted communities.
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  • Seattle, Washington, USA
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