Fishing in the Future

Planning—Fishing in the Future

Summary: Complex changes in ocean conditions are affecting the distribution and availability of some commercial fish species. Fishers and fishery managers use science to adapt to and prepare for the future. In this topic guide, students explore online data tools designed to help fisheries adapt to climate change.

Concepts to teach:


  1. Excess carbon dioxide in the environment is resulting in complex changes to the distribution and availability of some commercial fish species
  2. Fishers and fishery managers use science to help guide their practices

Standards: NGSS Performance Expectations

  • HS-LS2-6. Evaluate the claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.
  • HS-ESS3-1. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.

Specific Objectives:
Students will be able to:

  1. Examine data to determine trends in the distribution of a marine species
  2. Identify how science can help fisheries adapt to ecosystem changes

Activity Links and Resources:

  • A Big Change—13 min Sea Grant video that addresses how climate change will affect West Coast fisheries practices.
  • Online Data: Use the OceanAdapt webtool to track fish population distribution as the climate changes
  • Readings:
    • R. Press, 2014. NOAA Fisheries article The OceanAdapt Website: Tracking Fish Populations as the Climate Changes. NOAA Fisheries describes how using the OceanAdapt tool will help fishers and fishery managers adapt
    • N. Giles, 2013. Sea Grant Confluence article Whiskey creek shellfish acid tests. This article examines how the effect of ocean acidification on oyster larvae is being studied in a shellfish hatchery
    • Article: Ocean ecosystem indicators of salmon marine survival in the Northern California Current from the NOAA NW Fisheries Science Center—How do temperature, upwelling, and other ocean conditions help fishers and fishery managers forecast salmon returns? Explore resources on this website to learn what current ecosystem indicators can tell us about the near future.


  • Students use the OceanAdapt webtool to prepare a data-supported report on the trends of a commercial fish population. According to the data, has the species changed its distribution?
  • How does the OceanAdapt data can help fishers and fishery managers, and what are the limits of the data?
  • Analyze the NWFSC Forecast Tables. What is the current forecast for salmon returns in the Pacific Northwest, and what indicators were used to make this forecast?