Skip to main content
  • Loading metrics

Understanding perceptions of climate vulnerability to inform more effective adaptation in coastal communities

  • Laura K. Nelson ,

    Roles Conceptualization, Data curation, Formal analysis, Investigation, Methodology, Project administration, Visualization, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing

    Current address: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Seattle, Washington, United States of America

    Affiliation School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States of America

  • Alison C. Cullen,

    Roles Conceptualization, Funding acquisition, Methodology, Supervision, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing

    Affiliation Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States of America

  • Laura E. Koehn,

    Roles Data curation, Formal analysis, Methodology, Visualization, Writing – review & editing

    Current address: West Coast Regional Office, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Seattle, Washington, United States of America

    Affiliation School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States of America

  • Sarah Harper,

    Roles Data curation, Formal analysis, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing

    Affiliations Nature United, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, The School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

  • Jocelyn Runebaum,

    Roles Data curation, Formal analysis, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing

    Affiliation The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia, United States of America

  • Molly Bogeberg,

    Roles Methodology, Project administration, Writing – review & editing

    Affiliation The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia, United States of America

  • Astrea Strawn,

    Roles Methodology, Writing – review & editing

    Affiliation The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia, United States of America

  • Phillip S. Levin

    Roles Conceptualization, Funding acquisition, Methodology, Project administration, Resources, Supervision, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing

    Affiliations School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States of America, The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia, United States of America, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States of America


Coastal social-ecological systems are vulnerable to climate change with impacts distributed unequally amongst human communities. Vulnerability assessments, an increasingly popular methodology for understanding variability in vulnerability and its components, often fail to include or recognize the perceptions of individuals in the focal system. Perceptions of climate vulnerability are influenced by experiences, social networks, and cognitive biases, and often differ from vulnerability as measured by subject experts. Because perceptions influence human behavior, including if and how people take adaptive action, a failure to recognize perceptions can lead to ineffective adaptation plans and an incomplete understanding of system vulnerability. Here, as part of a novel, multi-method effort to evaluate vulnerability to climate change in the California Current social-ecological system, we survey fishers from Washington, Oregon, and California to understand their perceived vulnerability and investigate what factors drive variability in their views. We find that while there is a connection between some factors known to influence vulnerability of fishers, including vessel size and the diversity of fishing portfolios, the most significant predictor of higher perceived vulnerability was environmental worldview, specifically a belief that climate change is occurring. Motivation to adapt is also influenced by the sentiment that the impacts of climate change are more urgent and consequential than other problems; thus, we also evaluate how concern levels for environmental issues compare to other challenges that may affect fishing success and wellbeing. While just under half think that they will be personally harmed by climate change, generally the fishers were more concerned about issues like costs and regulations than they were about environmental impacts. This assessment of perceptions highlights the importance of communication and addressing cognitive barriers to adaptation in the effort to develop climate resilient fisheries and fishing communities in the United States.


Climate change is having profound impacts on coastal and marine ecosystems [14], and though effects will vary by species, there will be substantial consequences for fisheries worldwide [5, 6]. Fishing has long been a central part of the culture and economy of the U.S. Pacific Coast. Indigenous peoples have fished and gathered shellfish since time immemorial [79], and commercial and recreational fishing has generated nearly $35 billion annually in recent years [10]. Those practices are at risk as climate-driven changes in temperature, pH, and oxygen are leading to shifts in community structure and phenology [11, 12], and range shifts of marine populations [13, 14]. Climate impacts and the resulting effects on fisheries are already apparent in the California Current [1518], a highly productive eastern boundary current that is defined by seasonal upwelling that spans nearly 3,000 km from southern British Columbia, Canada to Baja California, Mexico. Upwelling systems like the California Current are particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification [19], which has significant negative impacts on calcifying organisms [20], and is also associated with altered ecological communities, food webs, and decreased fishery catches [2124]. Ocean warming is leading to the deoxygenation of ocean waters [25] and the resulting hypoxia often co-occurs with acidification [26]. Low-oxygen waters have spread onto the shelf in some sections of the California Current, including in areas of valuable commercial fisheries [27].

The effects of climate change on the ecological components and fisheries of the California Current are heterogenous. For example, ocean acidification has a greater impact on epibenthic invertebrates like crabs, shrimp and bivalves than on pelagic fish, marine mammals, and seabirds [24]. Additionally, ocean acidification has caused high mortality in shellfish hatcheries [26]. Previous work has predicted groundfish fisheries may remain strong regardless of climate impacts [28] as many demersal fish like Dover sole, sablefish, and rockfish may be able to take refuge in cooler waters by moving north or into deeper water [29]. However, ocean acidification may be a source of vulnerability for demersal fish, even relatively mobile ones, through erosion of their prey base [24] and evidence suggests they are increasingly being impacted by deoxygenation in near-bottom waters [27]. Pacific salmon survival is also negatively affected by climate-driven food web impacts as temperature increases cause changes in the zooplankton community and a reduction in abundance of nutritionally important lipid-rich copepods [30]. Overall impacts on Pacific salmon are geographically variable [e.g., 31], and vary by species, but climate change is generally a key driver of population dynamics [32].

The human communities of the California Current, of which at least 125 have been identified as significantly involved in commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisheries [33], also experience heterogenous effects of climate change due to the distribution of the ecological impacts, resource dependency, and underlying social vulnerabilities. Current projections indicate there will be a shift north in the range of many species of the California Current [12, 13], with variable effects on fishing fleets depending on their location and target species. In the sardine and groundfish fisheries, the ability to adapt or benefit from range shifts is affected by port location relative to northward movement of species [34], and effects may be dampened or exacerbated depending on behavioral patterns of fishing communities [35]. In the Dungeness crab fishery, impacts of harmful algal blooms and the ability of fishers to adapt are distributed unequally across the fleet [36], and communities that are highly reliant on crab have also experienced greater exposure during recent climate shocks [37]. Climate-driven events like harmful algal blooms and marine heat waves have caused significant economic and cultural impacts as losses in commercial fishing revenue are compounded by downturns in tourism and other sectors [38, 39]. Large declines in salmon abundance have coastwide impacts, although they are felt more acutely in some areas [40], notably within Indigenous communities of the Pacific Coast whose health, traditions, and food security are affected by the declines in salmon, shellfish, and other species [4143].

In these coastal socio-ecological fisheries systems [44], the wellbeing and economies of human communities are closely tied to the health of fish and shellfish populations [41, 4548] rendering benefits from, and relationships with, nature vulnerable as the abundance and availability of marine species are affected by climate change [4951]. Vulnerability is a complex concept and is defined and measured using a myriad of methods and frameworks. In AR5, the IPCC shifted from a vulnerability to a risk framework [52]; however, because of its predominant usage, we have chosen to use the vulnerability framework from AR4 [53]. (See [54, 55] for further discussion of the similarities and differences between those frameworks, and [56] to see how they compare when applied). Here, we define vulnerability as a function of the exposure of an individual or community to climate impacts, sensitivity to that exposure, and capacity to adapt to the effects of climate change [57, 58]. Although the term risk is sometimes used interchangeably with vulnerability [59], here we adopt the convention that vulnerability explicitly accounts for adaptive capacity, while risk does not, reflecting just the potential impacts to the system.

Given the interconnectedness of people and nature in fisheries systems [60], vulnerability assessments are often employed to examine the impact of specific environmental stressors, including climate change, and the ability of individuals and communities to cope with those stressors [58]. Vulnerability assessments can help to determine priorities and management strategies [61, 62] and identify particularly vulnerable communities [63]. This method, grounded in the risk and hazards fields as well as resilience science, has become a popular approach to understand how the type and severity of climate change effects varies geographically [64], the variability with which societies and people experience those impacts [65, 66], and capacities and constraints in adapting to changing conditions [6769]. Assessments previously conducted in coastal communities have shown how factors like the degree of natural resource dependence, contribution of resources to wellbeing and health, and exposure to the bio-physical effects of climate interact and contribute to overall vulnerability [41, 61, 7072]. Additionally, previous work has shown that some fishing specific characteristics like fishery participation [73], and vessel length [36, 37] influence adaptive capacity and vulnerability, and how fishery diversification can decrease risk by buffering interannual variability [74, 75].

Often, a goal of a climate vulnerability assessment is to inform plans for climate adaptation [e.g., 76]; consequently, understanding what drives vulnerability and the variability among communities and individuals is key to supporting a beneficial and equitable planning process. For example, some individuals may benefit most from environmentally-centered reduction of exposure, while others are best served by actions which enhance their adaptive capacity [77]. While risk and vulnerability assessments are valuable tools for risk management and climate adaptation, they are value-laden, and frequently ignore social and cultural outcomes [59, 78]. This omission often leads to a failure to address social and psychological determinants of risk or vulnerability [79] and the exclusion of impacts to important social and cultural practices [80]. Recent work has improved the inclusion of social indicators in understanding vulnerability in fisheries systems [81, 82], however examination of perceptions of risk and vulnerability in those systems remains less common.

Perceptions of risk and vulnerability are shaped by personal experience, cognitive biases, and interpretations of information, which can cause risks to be both over and underestimated compared to quantitative measures [83, 84]. Risk perception is affected by demographic traits (e.g., age and gender, [79]), attitudes [85], and the social system within which an individual resides [86]. Additionally, feelings of dread and lack of control, varying levels of familiarity, voluntariness of exposure, and observability all affect risk perception [84]. Importantly, these disparities can lead to gaps in risk perception between the general public and those with authoritative knowledge in an area (i.e., subject matter experts), and the general population tends to feel higher levels of concern for low probability, high consequence risks than experts [83]. These discrepancies are particularly apparent in the United States when it comes to climate change, and there is a well-documented gap between public and expert perceptions of risk with regards to climate change [87, 88]. A range of variables have been shown to influence the public’s perception of climate change risk including their environmental worldview, level of perceived personal responsibility for conservation, and political ideology [89, 90]. Additionally, many of the factors previously described as affecting general risk perception influence how people view climate change and its impacts including direct experience with extreme events (e.g., severe storms, wildfires, and heat waves) that are likely to increase under climate change [91, 92]. Perceptions of climate risk also vary geographically, likely in part due to cultural and ideological factors and as a function of personal experience with local weather and anchoring on recent anomalous extremes [88, 9395]. This variability is relevant as the perception of risk by general public frequently shapes environmental policy and management [96], and is particularly relevant in climate change policies [97, 98].

In this paper we report on the perceptions of climate vulnerability of fishers from the California Current to add to the conversation about climate adaptation on the West Coast and consider how the typical drivers of risk perception may be manifested in this context. Here, we employ a vulnerability assessment framework but use the perceptions of individuals to inform the dimensions of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. We investigated how perceived vulnerability vary among fisheries, geographic locations, demographic factors, and amongst those holding different worldviews. Finally, we evaluate how fisher concerns about climate compare with other challenges faced such as markets, infrastructure, and regulations, and how levels of concern are connected to perceptions of vulnerability.


To assess perceptions of climate vulnerability in California Current fishers, we developed a survey consisting of three sections: 1) demographic and fishery participation information, 2) observations of ocean change, and 3) perceptions of wellbeing and vulnerability. The survey consisted predominately of Likert-scale questions, but also included open-ended opportunities for survey participants to elaborate on their observations of environmental change and challenges they faced in adaptation [99]. Following pilot testing, we deployed the survey using a mixed-mode method [100]. Fisher contact information is managed at the state level and California, Oregon and Washington differ in how they manage and share data; consequently, we targeted fishers from Oregon and Washington primarily by mail and those in California via the internet. 1,000 fishers from Washington and Oregon were randomly selected from lists of licensed commercial fishers and asked to participate in the survey. They were initially contacted with a letter explaining the project and invited to complete the survey using the phone or over the internet. They were subsequently sent two postcards as reminders. To reach fishers living in California we contacted fishing associations and other organizations that work closely with fishers including non-profits and port groups and asked that they share the information and a link to the survey to their memberships or networks. After our initial outreach, we also opportunistically took advantage of meetings or other relevant events to bolster responses which we believed were being somewhat hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A measure of exposure was derived from responses to a series of questions regarding views on the effect that ocean warming is having on fish species. Specifically, the exposure score for each fisher was an average of their responses for the fisheries that they reported participating in. Perceptions regarding sensitivity and adaptive capacity were enumerated using specific questions based on established indicators of wellbeing and adaptive capacity [82, 101]. Responses to a series of statements about how changes in the environment and fisheries have affected health and wellbeing were used to determine sensitivity, and responses to statements regarding the ability to adapt and perceptions about the future were used to calculate adaptive capacity. Additional questions in the survey concerning perceptions of risk and resilience were adapted from Cullen et al. [102] and Schumann [103]. The full survey is available in the (S1 Appendix).

Ethics statement

The survey and research methods were reviewed and approved by the University of Washington Institutional Review Board. Participants were informed about the intent of the study at the start of the survey and provided written consent by answering a question acknowledging their willingness to participate.


In the vulnerability framework we use, exposure and sensitivity are combined to estimate risk, which when modified by adaptive capacity yields an estimate of vulnerability (Fig 1). Following Samhouri and Levin [104], we estimated risk as the Euclidean distance from the origin in a space defined by exposure and sensitivity (Eq 1). Vulnerability is calculated similarly by factoring in adaptive capacity and estimating the 3-dimensional Euclidean distance (Eq 2). We also explored an alternate method of estimating vulnerability by summing exposure and sensitivity and then subtracting adaptive capacity [61]. Results of the two methods of calculating risk and vulnerability were highly correlated (S2 Appendix, S1 Fig); thus, we present only the results from the Euclidean distance method here. The questions that were part of the exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity indices, all five-level Likert scales, were scored on a scale from 0 to 1. For example, in the adaptive capacity index, answering strongly agree to the statement, “I could easily move into a new fishery” was scored as a 1 indicating high adaptive capacity, while strongly disagree was scored as 0. The questions informing each dimension of vulnerability were averaged to get individual scores of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. Since a higher score equates to higher adaptive capacity, 1 –adaptive capacity was used when calculating vulnerability by Euclidean distance. We assumed that each component contributes equally, and each dimension was given equal weight when calculating vulnerability.

(Eq 1)(Eq 2)
Fig 1. Perceptions of vulnerability framework.

Perceived vulnerability of fishers was assessed by combining perceived exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. Design by SJ Bowden.

We next explored variability in and potential drivers of vulnerability. We used analysis of variance (ANOVA) to test the null hypothesis that perceptions of personal vulnerability do not differ among fishers varying in the (1) length vessel they fish on, (2) the number of fisheries they participate in, (3) the percentage of income they get outside fishing, (4) years they have spent fishing, (5) age, and (6) beliefs held about climate change. Because the belief in climate data violated the normality and homogeneity of variance assumptions of ANOVA, for that comparison we used Kruskal-Wallis rank sum test, a non-parametric alternative [105]. The survey questions regarding age, vessel length, and percentage of income from outside of fishing, and years spent fishing were all categorical, facilitating our use of ANOVA to analyze the responses.

In addition to questions regarding climate vulnerability, the survey included questions about environmental, fishing, and social issues that may affect fishing success and wellbeing. We used these responses, as well as responses to questions about belief in climate change, the future of fishing, and conflict associated with fishing to assess if and how people cluster around types of concerns (Table 1). Participants were asked to respond if they were very, somewhat, or not at all concerned about an issue, and whether they thought about those same issues never, occasionally, or often. Level of concern was scored from 1 (not at all) to 3 (very) and weighted by frequency of thought, also scored on a 1 (never) to 3 (frequently) scale. The questions informing outlook and conflict were based on a five-level Likert scale and scored from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The indices were rescaled between 0 and 1 and clustered using hierarchical clustering and the Ward method; indices and individual questions were checked for correlation before clustering. The R package NbClust, which proposes the best clustering scheme after comparing the results from 27 indices [106], was used to determine the appropriate number of clusters. Following clustering, we used Welch’s ANOVA and pairwise t-tests with the Bonferroni correction to test whether the mean concern scores were different among the clusters.

Table 1. Fishing concerns.

Concern themes and the questions that contributed towards them for the cluster analysis.

To visualize how the concern clusters may relate to perceptions of vulnerability, we modified the vulnerability profile approach described by Thiault et al. [77] and created quadrants characterized by median values in a space defined by risk (exposure plus sensitivity), and adaptive capacity. We included cluster membership when visualizing the distribution of individuals in that space, and profile groups were determined by the quadrant that individuals were located in due to their combination of risk and adaptive capacity. The statistical analysis was performed using R [107] while the results of the open-ended questions in the survey were inductively coded and analyzed using ATLAS.ti [108].


We received 162 responses to our survey from fishers residing in Washington, Oregon, California, and Alaska, giving us a 13% response rate for the fishers that were invited by mail to participate. The survey was ongoing at the time of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we believe this detracted from our ability to attract participants. Survey participants reported fishing all along the Pacific coast from the Mexico border to Cape Flattery, WA, and participating a variety of fisheries (Fig 2A and 2C). One-third of the fishers who responded fish in other locations in addition to the West Coast, predominantly in Alaska. Because licensed fishers were targeted by our recruitment process, we received more responses from captains and vessel owners than crew (Fig 2B). The majority of respondents have been fishing for over 25 years, generate at least 75% of their income through fishing, and are longtime residents of their communities (Table 2). Over 90% of the respondents identify as male.

Fig 2. Survey responses.

a) Number of responses received by fishery and b) industry role. c) Response numbers by county of homeport and regions regularly fished. Individuals could respond multiple times for each question except for homeport. Fishing regions were defined as: Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca; WA Coast–Cape Flattery, WA to Cape Disappointment, WA; the Columbia River; OR Coast–South of the Columbia River to Mendocino, CA; Northern CA–Mendocino, CA to Point Reyes, CA; Central CA–Point Reyes, CA to Point Conception, CA; Southern CA–south of Point Conception, CA. The map was made using the tigris R package which uses TIGER/Line shapefiles from the US Census Bureau.

Table 2. Summary statistics of survey respondents.

One individual that lives in Alaska responded, they fish in Washington and were included in the Washington group during analysis to preserve anonymity.

Climate change and fishing

Most respondents reported observing some changes in their fisheries and the environment. Just under two-thirds (60%) said they have seen an increase in ocean temperatures in the waters off the West Coast in the last five years and 71% said they felt there has been a decrease in the availability of their target species. When asked to compare the last five years with 30 years ago, 75% said they have seen a range shift in their target species. Half (49%) of respondents reported a shift in the time of year when they fish, and just under that (43%) thought their ability to catch fish has been negatively impacted by climate change. These changes have had consequences for the health and wellbeing of fishers; 70% agree that changes in fisheries have raised their stress levels, and 64% agree that it has negatively affected their overall wellbeing (S2 Fig).

Survey participants exhibited a range of perspectives about how marine species are being impacted by climate change and expressed a lot of uncertainty as well. People were asked whether they thought ocean warming was having a strong negative, slight negative, neutral, slight positive, or strong positive effect on a list of commercially fished species and management groups, and then asked about their confidence level in that response. They also had the option of responding I don’t know. Salmon and Dungeness crab had the lowest percentages of I don’t know responses, and 67% and 34% of all participants agreed that ocean warming was having a slight or strong negative effect on those species, respectively (S3A Fig). Just over 20% of survey participants thought that ocean warming is having a slight or strong positive effect on highly migratory species (such as Pacific tunas, swordfish, sharks, and billfish). Confidence levels were similar across species with 51%-70% reporting high confidence in their responses (S3B Fig). Exposure was calculated based upon this question, but only responses for the fisheries that people participate in were used; versus these results which reflect the responses of all participants.

Fishers that responded to the survey held a diversity of views regarding the occurrence and outcomes of climate change. Two-thirds (66%) of respondents strongly or slightly agree with the statement “I believe climate change is occurring,” while about half (48%) think they will personally be harmed by climate change. More (62%) are worried about effects on future generations and just over half (51%) agree that, despite uncertainty, we should be preparing for climate change (Fig 3). Though almost 40% think the 20-year outlook for their fishery is poor, most still want to remain in the fishing industry.

Fig 3. Future of fishing and climate change.

The percentage of respondents that agreed or disagreed with the statements on the left of the figure. Numbers on the far right and far left are the sum of the strongly and somewhat agree or disagree responses and those in the middle are the percentage of people who answered neutral for that statement. n = 162.

The polarization that surrounds climate change in national conversations in the United States was apparent in survey responses to the open-ended questions with some, like this individual, exhibiting concern for the wide-ranging consequences,

“Salmon and crab [will be particularly negatively affected], but it is likely that no species will escape effects of climate change. In particular, ocean pH changes have the potential to affect all harvest species.”

While others held forces besides climate change responsible for the changes in fish populations,

Don’t believe climate has anything to do with it [changes in fish species]. 99% too much fishing pressure.

They [fish populations] seem to be more affected by political regulations than climate change.”

Respondents attributed changes in fisheries to a variety of causes, both environmental and regulatory. Many people noted that they think warmer water is contributing to the reduction in fish abundance, particularly for salmon, and that it is a driving force behind species’ range shifts. With their observations of changes in the weather, salmon, and other species, many fishers echoed the sentiments of this individual, describing his observations,

“The albacore act weird. They are not where they historically hang out. The fish are skinnier than normal. Water temperatures are sometimes so high our freezers have a difficult time maintaining temperature. The prevailing wind is historically from the NW. For the last 4–5 years it has been directly out of the north which affects upwelling negatively.”

In addition to range shifts, other challenges described by fishers include reduced and unpredictable fish populations, increases in bad weather that interfered with fishing, issues with paralytic shellfish poisoning and domoic acid, and interactions with other species that negatively affected fish populations or fishing ability (Table 3). This fisher describes encountering many of those issues in the 2019 season,

“In 2019 I fished another delayed California Dungy season, then to Oregon to seine squid that never showed up, to SE salmon season which was strongly affected by the 2019 Pacific Blob of water, finally to longline some black cod in WG [Western Gulf of Alaska] only to have to struggle to catch with whales around. All these fisheries are part of the bigger picture of the Pacific.”

Table 3. Observations of change.

Common themes and observations from open-ended questions about range and timing shifts, and effects of climate change on fishing.

Management actions have also caused challenges for fishers. A decline in salmon populations, specifically in Washington, was attributed by some to a decrease in hatchery production, and some management decisions (e.g., shorter season, later openings) were identified as drivers of temporal shifts in fishing. Because environmental change and regulatory difficulties do not happen independent of each other, often fishing troubles were identified as a combination of both. Here, a fisher describes an issue that has arisen because current regulations have not kept pace with environmental change:

“Species shift northward has decreased herring biomass, increased squid stocks that local fishermen cannot access at any level due to restricted limited entry. California has closed the two-ton open access provision that had previously allowed artisanal small-scale fishing for squid. As fishing stocks move north local fishermen are denied access at any scale.

Perceptions of climate vulnerability

Perceptions of personal climate vulnerability varied among fishers who targeted different taxa. Our cluster analysis revealed two major groupings—fishers targeting echinoderms (urchins and sea cucumbers), geoduck, and salmon clustered together and generally expressed more vulnerability to climate change than fishers targeting other species (Fig 4, S1 Table). This cluster perceived themselves as being more exposed and having lower adaptive capacity than the other cluster. Conversely, the second cluster–fishers targeting highly migratory species, groundfish, shrimp, CPS, squid, and razor clams–comparatively expressed that they both had less exposure and greater adaptive capacity. While in that cluster, the perceptions of razor clam fishers followed a slightly different pattern; they see themselves as more highly sensitive to climate change, but their overall vulnerability is in the middle of the group due to a lower sense of exposure.

Fig 4. Heatmap of dimensions of vulnerability by fishery.

Relative average levels of exposure, sensitivity, adaptive capacity, and vulnerability for select fisheries where darker red indicates a higher contribution to vulnerability. Each column is scaled independent of the others, therefore the score associated with the darkest red in exposure is not equivalent to that same color in the vulnerability column.

Perceived vulnerability generally had higher correlation with views regarding climate change than demographics, with some limited exceptions. We did not detect differences in perceptions of exposure, sensitivity, adaptive capacity, or vulnerability among survey respondents of varying age, percentage of income from outside fishing, or years of fishing experience (S2 Table, P >0.05). Fishers working on larger vessels (>55 ft) generally felt that they had greater adaptive capacity than those working on smaller vessels (≤ 55 ft) (F = 5.58, df = 5, P< 0.001). We did not detect a difference in perceptions of exposure (F = 1.23, df = 5, P = 0.347) or sensitivity (F = 1.639, df = 5, P = 0.153) between those working on large vs. small vessels. However, the perception of high adaptive capacity of large-vessel fishers was strong enough to lead to a significantly lower assessment of overall vulnerability for them (F = 3.335, df = 5, P = 0.007).

Survey respondents also believe that diversification across target species reduces exposure to climate impacts and those who participated in more fisheries perceived lower climate exposure (Kruskal-Wallis chi-squared = 10.174, df = 3, P = 0.017). Still, diversification was not associated with differences in climate sensitivity (F = 2.23, df = 3, P = 0.087) and adaptive capacity (F = 0.80, df = 3, P = 0.493), and the difference in perceived exposure was not sufficiently large to be expressed as a difference in vulnerability (F = 2.09, df = 3, P = 0.105).

Beliefs regarding whether climate change is occurring was related to fisher perceptions of climate exposure, sensitivity, and vulnerability. Those who responded strongly or somewhat agree to the statement “I believe climate change is occurring” felt on average that they were more exposed than those who responded neutral or somewhat or strongly disagree (Table 4, S3). The agree and neutral groups both had higher perceived mean sensitivity and vulnerability than the disagree group. However, belief in climate change was not related to how people felt about their adaptive capacity (Fig 5).

Fig 5. Density curves of components of vulnerability.

The distribution of scores within each component of vulnerability is shown with respondents grouped by their responses to the prompt “I believe climate change is occurring.” Letters indicate which groups are statistically different (p < 0.05) according to the results of pairwise Wilcoxon rank sum tests with Bonferroni correction.

Table 4. Vulnerability scores.

Mean scores of components of vulnerability when people are clustered by their belief that climate change is occurring, and results of the Kruskal-Wallis statistical test for each component.

Vulnerability profiles and non-climatic concerns

When we investigated how concerns about the impacts of climate change compare to other environmental and non-environmental issues potentially confronting fishers, day-to-day operational issues proved to be of higher concern than environmental factors (S4 Fig). The status of fish populations was the biggest concern with 72% responding that they were very worried about that issue, followed by regulations (68.5%), operational costs (65.4%), and bycatch (61.1%). Around half of respondents expressed that they were very worried about some of the environmental issues with 54.9% saying they were very worried about habitat loss, 50.6% very worried about harmful algal blooms, and 48.1% very worried about water quality. Mental health (8.6% very worried), sea level rise (17.9%) and changing weather patterns (17.9%) were among the issues of least concern.

The Likert-responses for the level of concern were converted to a numerical scale and then grouped into the six themes previously described: marine environment, fishing operations, community and infrastructure, personal, outlook, and conflict (Table 1), and then hierarchical clustering was performed on the average scores of each theme. A three-cluster solution was the recommended outcome; 14 of the 27 indexes tested recommended three clusters. The resulting three clusters of individuals were relatively distinct in their concern pattern. Cluster 3 exhibited the highest level of concern across the board, standing out in particular for their higher level of concern for the marine environment and community and infrastructure issues (Fig 6; S4 Table).

Fig 6. Boxplot of average scores for concern clusters 1, 2, and 3 across the six themes.

The line in the middle of the box is the median score, the upper and lower end of the box indicate the 75% and 25% percentiles respectively, and dots represent potential outliers. Because of the way the outlook statements were phrased, a higher score indicates a more negative outlook for future fishing prospects. Letters indicate significantly different groups p < 0.05 according to the results of pairwise t-tests. There are 65 people in cluster 1, 60 in cluster 2, and 37 in cluster 3.

There was a distinct pattern in how the concern clusters appeared in the vulnerability space defined by average risk and average adaptive capacity (Fig 7). This space is split into four quadrants, or vulnerability profiles [77] by the median adaptive capacity and risk scores: 1. Potential adapters, 2. Higher concern, 3. High latent risk, and 4. Lower concern. Individuals in cluster 3, the cluster that expressed greater worry across the themes, predominantly occupy quadrants 1 and 2. These individuals generally perceive themselves to be at higher risk but vary with regards to their level of adaptive capacity. Cluster 2 tended to perceive themselves as having lower risk than cluster 3, but also exhibited an internal range of perceived adaptive capacity resulting in them primarily occupying quadrants 3 and 4. In contrast, individuals in cluster 1 were more spread out but most tended to perceive themselves as either highly vulnerable (high risk and low adaptive capacity) or as having low vulnerability (low risk and high adaptive capacity). Overall, individuals in each cluster tend to be more similar in their perceived level of risk than adaptive capacity.

Fig 7. Perceived vulnerability of individuals.

Colors correspond to the clustered concern groups and black lines correspond to median risk and adaptive capacity. Quadrant vulnerability profiles are 1. Potential adapters, 2. Higher concern, 3. High latent risk, and 4. Lower concern [77]. X axis is oriented from 1 to 0 because higher adaptive capacity reduces vulnerability.


Vulnerable populations often experience or perceive their vulnerability in different ways, even people who are susceptible in the same context [109]. We found that fishers from the West Coast exhibited a range of perceptions regarding climate change and their vulnerability to the impacts. There were some areas of relative agreement, like the fact that changes in fisheries are raising the stress levels, and others where people were spread more evenly across the spectrum, like concern about being personally harmed by climate change. These perceptions of climate vulnerability are complex and informed by social, cognitive, and experiential factors. Perceptions inform the ways in which people act and plan for the impacts of climate change, or why they choose to maintain the status quo, making it important to consider perceptions in climate vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning processes. The inclusion of perceptions of climate vulnerability may also help reflect real concerns of people that may be otherwise missed [110], and better understanding of community concerns and risk perceptions can highlight issues that, if not addressed, may impact the equity and effectiveness of adaptation [111].

Perceptions of risk and vulnerability influence how people engage with the idea of adaptation, shaping their feelings about the need to act and type of adaptive action to take [112, 113]. For instance, when faced with the same wildfire risk, some communities in Colorado perceived it to be a mitigation issue, others as an emergency response concern, and their actions followed accordingly [114]. In that case, social context affected how risk perceptions were appraised and converted to action; relative risk perception also drives motivation to adapt. In the risk appraisal process, individuals weigh the severity and urgency of the potential impacts from climate change against other challenges or issues they face [115]. Here, many fishers were more concerned about issues like operational costs and regulations than they were about climate change, and such competing concerns can be a barrier to climate adaptation [112]. The fact that people tend to discount future benefits more than future costs may additionally undermine the motivation to take action and incur costs related to adaptation for those who are focused more on immediate and concrete challenges like day-to-day operational issues [89].

The generation of vulnerability profiles [77] is another way to consider how perceptions of risk and adaptive capacity may influence the way in which individuals respond, some of which may warrant particular attention in adaptation planning. Regardless of their other concerns, if people perceive themselves to be at low risk to climate impacts the way they act to reduce their vulnerability, if they choose to act at all, will likely look different than those who feel more at risk. For example, one group of individuals in the lobster fishery in Maine had no plans for adaptation because they did not think they would be personally harmed, despite a general consensus among the fishers that ocean waters are warming, while many of those more concerned about climate change were already taking action [116]. A similar reaction may be expected here from individuals in either the high latent risk or lower concern quadrants. While these individuals may legitimately have low risk to the impacts of climate change, denial, fatalistic, or overly optimistic worldviews can influence risk perceptions and lead to avoidant behaviors or maladaptation [112]. Conversely, individuals in the higher concern and high latent risk groups may be limited in adaptation because they perceive themselves to have low adaptive capacity. While that perception may reflect an actual physical inability to adapt, as with risk perception there may be differences between perceptions of adaptive capacity and the objective ability to adapt [115].

While climate policy cannot be scaled to the individual, in the interest of effective adaptation it is important to recognize that not everyone will benefit equally from a single strategy and that risk perceptions will likely inform if and how individuals avail themselves of resources that support adaptation. Additionally, when it comes to adaptive capacity, policy makers should be aware that the strategy needed to improve resilience may be one that addresses perceptions of adaptive capacity, not necessarily just providing physical assets that have traditionally been assumed to facilitate adaptation. Since public support of climate policies is also influenced by perceptions of risk [117], and understanding perceptions can help in climate change communication [118], elicitation of perceptions of climate vulnerability may also help to identify management, communication, and adaptation strategies more likely to gain acceptance in fishing communities. Belief in climate change, significantly connected with perceptions of vulnerability in this study, is influenced by political ideology in the United States [89], as is overall trust in science [119]. Yet amidst the growing divide between political cultures and the associated worldviews, finding common ground on which to communicate and agree upon the need for climate mitigation and adaptation policies is increasingly challenging. Perceptions about adaptive capacity–here unrelated to belief in climate change–may be a less polarizing way to discuss efforts to address climate change. Future investigations will take a deeper look into what is associated with variations in perceptions of adaptive capacity, and how adaptive capacity may differ if we broaden our definition of what is contributing to it.

The key findings from the most recent IPCC report [120], underscore the need for urgent action for all coastal communities as the options for protection and adaptation in ocean and coastal ecosystems are becoming fewer and less effective with the continued rise in atmospheric CO2 levels [121]. Efforts are underway throughout the region to develop strategies to support the resilience of fisheries and fishing communities, including initiatives within the Pacific Fisheries Management Council. As we work to support the climate-readiness of fisheries, for all the reasons described above regarding the influence of perceptions on behavior and policy support, it is valuable in such efforts to account for the perceptions of fishers on the West Coast regarding their vulnerability to climate change. Here, we have applied a widely used framework to assess vulnerability but have informed the dimensions using self-assessed survey data to understand how those potentially at risk understand and interpret their situation. While perceptions are known to diverge from empirically measured or actuarial risk (in cases where measurement is even possible) [78, 84], here we focus not on assessing those differences but on understanding what factors contribute to an individual perceiving themselves to be vulnerable to climate change, and how perceptions of vulnerability are distributed among fishers on the West Coast of the United States. The results of this in-depth survey of fishers from Washington, Oregon, and California provides additional evidence that when it comes to perceptions of climate vulnerability, the worldviews of individuals hold great influence.

Supporting information

S1 Fig. Comparison of vulnerability calculation methods.

Correlation between risk and vulnerability scores when calculated either by summing exposure and sensitivity and subtracting adaptive capacity (risk and vulnerability) or by using the Euclidean distance method (Euc. risk and Euc. vulnerability). Panels on the left side are scatterplots of each set of variables, the diagonal shows variable distribution, and the results of the Pearson correlation are found on the right.


S2 Fig. Health impacts.

Results of responses about level of agreement or disagreement with statements regarding how health and wellbeing is being affected by changes in fisheries and the environment. Responses from this question were used to derive individual sensitivity. Numbers on the far right and far left are the sum of the strongly and somewhat agree or disagree responses and those in the middle are the percentage of people who answered neutral for that statement. n = 162.


S3 Fig. Views on ocean warming and fisheries.

a. Results of the question, “What, if any, effect do you believe ocean warming is having on these fisheries?" Response options were strong negative effect, slight negative effect, no effect, slight positive effect, strong positive effect, or I don’t know. N in column on right is the number of people that gave responses besides “I don’t know” and percentages in the figure are of that value. b. Results of the follow-up question, please indicate your level of confidence in your response to the previous question. Response options were low, medium, or high confidence. n = 162.


S4 Fig. Level of concern for select issues that may affect fishing.

Results of Likert-scale question, “Please indicate whether you are very, somewhat, or not at all concerned for the following issues.” Mean column indicates mean level of concern where very = 1, somewhat = 2, and none = 3. n = 162 for each row.


S1 Table. Vulnerability scores by fishery.

Average exposure, sensitivity, adaptive capacity, and vulnerability scores averaged by participants in each fishery. Many people participated in more than one fishery so the total from individual fishers is greater than 162.


S2 Table. Vulnerability comparisons.

ANOVA results for selected demographic categories and vulnerability.


S3 Table. Vulnerability score comparison based on belief in climate change.

Comparison between Significance (p-value) for each component of vulnerability from pairwise Wilcoxon rank sum test with Bonferroni correction conducted following Kruskal-Wallis tests.


S4 Table. Comparison of concern levels between clusters.

P-values from the results of Welch’s ANOVA and pairwise t-tests for differences between mean concern score for cluster groups. The Bonferroni correction was applied to the pairwise t-tests.


S1 Appendix. Questions included in the online survey instrument.


S2 Appendix. Description and comparison of different methods used to calculate vulnerability.



We would like to thank all the individuals that took time to participate in the survey as well as the fishing associations and other industry members that helped share information about the project. We also greatly appreciate everyone who reviewed, piloted, and provided feedback on the survey and the project including Gway Kirchner, Jameal Samhouri, Corey Niles, and the other members of the Interdisciplinary Conservation Science Lab at the University of Washington. We greatly appreciate the funding and support of the Lenfest Ocean Program.


  1. 1. Bakun A, Black BA, Bograd SJ, García-Reyes M, Miller AJ, Rykaczewski RR, et al. Anticipated Effects of Climate Change on Coastal Upwelling Ecosystems. Curr Clim Change Rep. 2015;1(2):85–93.
  2. 2. Doney SC, Ruckelshaus M, Duffy JE, Barry JP, Chan F, English CA, et al. Climate change impacts on marine ecosystems. Ann Rev Mar Sci. 2012;4:11–37. pmid:22457967
  3. 3. Olsen E, Kaplan IC, Hansen C, Fulton E, Fogarty MJ, Tam JC, et al. Editorial: Future Oceans Under Multiple Stressors: From Global Change to Anthropogenic Impact. Front Mar Sci. 2020;7(606538).
  4. 4. Oliver ECJ, Benthuysen JA, Darmaraki S, Donat MG, Hobday AJ, Holbrook NJ, et al. Marine Heatwaves. Ann Rev Mar Sci. 2021;13:313–42. pmid:32976730
  5. 5. Free CM, Thorson JT, Pinsky ML, Oken KL, Wiedenmann J, Jensen OP. Impacts of historical warming on marine fisheries production. Science. 2019;383(6430):979–83.
  6. 6. Sumaila UR, Cheung WW, Lam VW, Pauly D, Herrick S. Climate change impacts on the biophysics and economics of world fisheries. Nat Clim Chang. 2011;1:449–56.
  7. 7. Sepez J. Historical Ecology of Makah Subsistence Foraging Patterns. J Ethnobiol. 2008;28(1):110–33.
  8. 8. Mckechnie I, Lepofsky D, Moss ML, Butler VL, Orchard TJ, Coupland G, et al. Archaeological data provide alternative hypotheses on Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) distribution, abundance, and variability. PNAS. 2014;111(9):807–16. pmid:24550468
  9. 9. Toniello G, Lepofsky D, Lertzman-Lepofsky G, Salomon AK, Rowell K. 1,500 y of human-clam relationships provide long-term context for intertidal management in the Salish Sea, British Columbia. PNAS. 2019;116(44):22106–14.
  10. 10. National Marine Fisheries Service. Fisheries Economics of the United States, 2016. 2018.
  11. 11. Poloczanska ES, Burrows MT, Brown CJ, Molinos JG, Halpern BS, Hoegh-Guldberg O, et al. Responses of marine organisms to climate change across oceans. Front Mar Sci. 2016;3:62.
  12. 12. Cheung WWL, Brodeur RD, Okey TA, Pauly D. Projecting future changes in distributions of pelagic fish species of Northeast Pacific shelf seas. Prog Oceanogr. 2015;130:19–31.
  13. 13. Morley JW, Selden RL, Latour RJ, Frölicher TL, Seagraves RJ, Pinsky M. Projecting shifts in thermal habitat for 686 species on the North American continental shelf. PLoS One. 2018;13(5):1–28. pmid:29768423
  14. 14. Perry AL, Low PJ, Ellis JR, Reynolds JD. Climate Change and Distribution Shifts in Marine Fishes. Science. 2005;308(5730):1912–5. pmid:15890845
  15. 15. Hodgson EE, Kaplan IC, Marshall KN, Leonard J, Essington TE, Busch DS, et al. Consequences of spatially variable ocean acidification in the California Current: Lower pH drives strongest declines in benthic species in southern regions while greatest economic impacts occur in northern regions. Ecol Modell. 2018;383:106–17.
  16. 16. Moore SK, Cline MR, Blair K, Klinger T, Varney A, Norman K. An index of fisheries closures due to harmful algal blooms and a framework for identifying vulnerable fishing communities on the U.S. West Coast. Mar Policy. 2019;110:103543.
  17. 17. McCabe RM, Hickey BM, Kudela RM, Lefebvre KA, Adams NG, Bill BD, et al. An unprecedented coastwide toxic algal bloom linked to anomalous ocean conditions. Geophys Res Lett. 2016;43(19):10,366–10,376. pmid:27917011
  18. 18. Magel CL, Lee EMJ, Strawn AM, Swieca K, Jensen AD. Connecting Crabs, Currents, and Coastal Communities: Examining the Impacts of Changing Ocean Conditions on the Distribution of U.S. West Coast Dungeness Crab Commercial Catch. Front Mar Sci. 2020;7:401.
  19. 19. Doney SC. The Growing Human Footprint on Coastal and Open-Ocean Biogeochemistry. Science. 2010;328(5985):1512–6. pmid:20558706
  20. 20. Busch DS, McElhany P. Estimates of the direct effect of seawater pH on the survival rate of species groups in the California current ecosystem. PLoS One. 2016;11(8):1–28. pmid:27513576
  21. 21. Bednaršek N, Harvey CJ, Kaplan IC, Feely RA, Možina J. Pteropods on the edge: Cumulative effects of ocean acidification, warming, and deoxygenation. Prog Oceanogr. 2016;145:1–24.
  22. 22. Kaplan IC, Levin PS, Burden M, Fulton EA. Fishing catch shares in the face of global change: a framework for integrating cumulative impacts and single species management. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 2010;67(12):1968–82.
  23. 23. Klinger T, Chornesky EA, Whiteman EA, Chan F, Largier JL, Wakefield WW. Using integrated, ecosystem-level management to address intensifying ocean acidification and hypoxia in the California Current large marine ecosystem. Elementa Science of the Anthropocene. 2017;5(16).
  24. 24. Marshall KN, Kaplan IC, Hodgson EE, Hermann A, Busch DS, McElhany P, et al. Risks of ocean acidification in the California Current food web and fisheries: ecosystem model projections. Glob Chang Biol. 2017;23:1525–39. pmid:28078785
  25. 25. Keeling RF, Körtzinger A, Gruber N. Ocean Deoxygenation in a Warming World. Ann Rev Mar Sci. 2010;2(1):199–229.
  26. 26. Chan F, Boehm AB, Barth JA, Chornesky EA, Dickson AG, Feely RA, et al. The West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel: Major Findings, Recommendations, and Actions. Oakland, CA; 2016.
  27. 27. Keller AA, Ciannelli L, Wakefield WW, Simon V, Barth JA, Pierce SD. Occurrence of demersal fishes in relation to near-bottom oxygen levels within the California Current large marine ecosystem. Fish Oceanogr. 2015;24(2):162–76.
  28. 28. Ainsworth C, Samhouri J, Busch D, Okey T, Cheung W. Potential impacts of climate change in northeast Pacific marine food webs. ICES Journal of Marine Science. 2011;68(6):1217–29.
  29. 29. King JR, Agostini VN, Harvey CJ, Mcfarlane GA, Foreman MGG, Overland JE, et al. Climate forcing and the California Current ecosystem. ICES Journal of Marine Science6. 2011;68(6):1199–216.
  30. 30. Peterson WT, Morgan CA, Peterson JO, Fisher JL, Burke BJ, Fresh K. Ocean ecosystem indicators of salmon marine survival in the Northern California Current. 2013.
  31. 31. Tolimieri N, Levin P. Differences in responses of chinook salmon to climate shifts: implications for conservation. Environ Biol Fishes. 2004;70:155–67.
  32. 32. Crozier LG, McClure MM, Beechie T, Bograd SJ, Boughton DA, Carr M, et al. Climate vulnerability assessment for Pacific salmon and steelhead in the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem. PLoS One. 2019;14(7):e0217711. pmid:31339895
  33. 33. Norman K, Sepez J, Lazrus H, Milne N, Package C, Russell S, et al. Community Profiles for West Coast and North Pacific Fisheries–Washington, Oregon, California, and other U.S. states. U.S. Dept. of Commer., Tech. Memo. NMFS-NWFSC-85. 2007.
  34. 34. Smith JA, Muhling B, Sweeney J, Tommasi D, Buil MP, Fiechter J, et al. The potential impact of a shifting Pacific sardine distribution on U.S. West Coast landings. Fish Oceanogr. 2021;30(4):437–54.
  35. 35. Selden RL, Thorson JT, Samhouri JF, Bograd SJ, Brodie S, Carroll G, et al. Coupled changes in biomass and distribution drive trends in availability of fish stocks to US West Coast ports. ICES Journal of Marine Science. 2020;77(1):188–99.
  36. 36. Jardine SL, Fisher MC, Moore SK, Samhouri JF. Inequality in the Economic Impacts from Climate Shocks in Fisheries: The Case of Harmful Algal Blooms. Ecological Economics. 2020;176:106691.
  37. 37. Fisher MC, Moore SK, Jardine SL, Watson JR, Samhouri JF. Climate shock effects and mediation in fisheries. PNAS. 2021;118(2). pmid:33397723
  38. 38. Moore SK, Dreyer SJ, Ekstrom JA, Moore K, Norman K, Klinger T, et al. Harmful algal blooms and coastal communities: Socioeconomic impacts and actions taken to cope with the 2015 U.S. West Coast domoic acid event. Harmful Algae. 2020;96:101799. pmid:32560834
  39. 39. Ritzman J, Brodbeck A, Brostrom S, McGrew S, Dreyer S, Klinger T, et al. Economic and sociocultural impacts of fisheries closures in two fishing-dependent communities following the massive 2015 U.S. West Coast harmful algal bloom. Harmful Algae. 2018;80:35–45. pmid:30502810
  40. 40. Richerson K, Leonard J, Holland DS. Predicting the economic impacts of the 2017 West Coast salmon troll ocean fishery closure. Mar Policy. 2018;95:142–52.
  41. 41. Donatuto J, Satterfield T, Gregory R. Poisoning the body to nourish the soul: Prioritizing health risks and impacts in a Native American community. Health Risk Soc. 2011;13(2):103–27.
  42. 42. Crosman KM, Petrou EL, Rudd MB, Tillotson MD. Clam hunger and the changing ocean: characterizing social and ecological risks to the Quinault razor clam fishery using participatory modeling. Ecology and Society. 2019;24(2).
  43. 43. Lynn K, Daigle J, Hoffman J, Lake F, Michelle N, Ranco D, et al. The impacts of climate change on tribal traditional foods. Clim Change. 2013;120(3):545–56.
  44. 44. Marshall KN, Levin PS, Essington TE, Koehn LE, Anderson LG, Bundy A, et al. Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management for Social–Ecological Systems: Renewing the Focus in the United States with Next Generation Fishery Ecosystem Plans. Conserv Lett. 2018;11(1).
  45. 45. Allison EH, Perry AL, Badjeck MC, Adger WN, Brown K, Conway D, et al. Vulnerability of national economies to the impacts of climate change on fisheries. Fish and Fisheries. 2009;10:173–96.
  46. 46. Breslow SJ, Sojka B, Barnea R, Basurto X, Carothers C, Charnley S, et al. Conceptualizing and operationalizing human wellbeing for ecosystem assessment and management. Environ Sci Policy. 2016;66:250–9.
  47. 47. Donkersloot R, Black J, Carothers C, Ringer D, Justin W, Clay P, et al. Assessing the sustainability and equity of Alaska salmon fisheries through a well-being framework. Ecology and Society. 2020;25(2):1–19.
  48. 48. Holland DS, Leonard J. Is a delay a disaster? economic impacts of the delay of the California Dungeness crab fishery due to a harmful algal bloom. Harmful Algae. 2020;98:101904. pmid:33129461
  49. 49. Badjeck MC, Allison EH, Halls AS, Dulvy NK. Impacts of climate variability and change on fishery-based livelihoods. Mar Policy. 2010;34(3):375–83.
  50. 50. Perry RI, Ommer RE, Allison EH, Badjeck MC, Barange M, Hamilton L, et al. Interactions between changes in marine ecosystems and human communities. In: Marine Ecosystems and Global Change. 2010.
  51. 51. Selig ER, Hole DG, Allison EH, Arkema KK, McKinnon MC, Chu J, et al. Mapping global human dependence on marine ecosystems. Conserv Lett. 2018;12(2).
  52. 52. Field CB, Barros VR, Dokken DJ, Mach KJ, Mastrandrea MD, Bilir TE, et al. 2014: Summary for policymakers. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, UK; 2014.
  53. 53. Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof JP, van der Linden PJ, Hanson CE. Climate change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, UK; 2007.
  54. 54. Lioubimtseva E. The role of inclusion in climate vulnerability assessment and equitable adaptation goals in small American municipalities. Discover Sustainability. 2022;3(3).
  55. 55. Comte A, Pendleton LH, Bailly D, Quillérou E. Conceptual advances on global scale assessments of vulnerability: Informing investments for coastal populations at risk of climate change. Mar Policy. 2019;99:391–9.
  56. 56. Das S, Ghosh A, Hazra S, Ghosh T, Safra de Campos R, Samanta S. Linking IPCC AR4 & AR5 frameworks for assessing vulnerability and risk to climate change in the Indian Bengal Delta. Progress in Disaster Science. 2020;7.
  57. 57. Adger WN. Social and ecological resilience: Are they related? Prog Hum Geogr. 2000;24(3):347–64.
  58. 58. Adger WN. Vulnerability. Global Environmental Change. 2006;16:268–81.
  59. 59. Hodgson EE, Essington TE, Samhouri JF, Allison EH, Bennett NJ, Bostrom A, et al. Integrated Risk Assessment for the Blue Economy. Front Mar Sci. 2019;6:609.
  60. 60. Ostrom E. A General Framework for Analyzing Sustainability of Social-Ecological Systems. Science. 2009;325(5939):419–22. pmid:19628857
  61. 61. Cinner JE, McClanahan TR, Graham NAJ, Daw TM, Maina J, Stead SM, et al. Vulnerability of coastal communities to key impacts of climate change on coral reef fisheries. Global Environmental Change. 2012;22(1):12–20.
  62. 62. Thiault L, Marshall P, Gelcich S, Collin A, Chlous F, Claudet J. Mapping social–ecological vulnerability to inform local decision making. Conservation Biology. 2018;32(2):447–56. pmid:28714583
  63. 63. Davies IP, Haugo RD, Robertson JC, Levin PS. The unequal vulnerability of communities of color to wildfire. PLoS One. 2018;13(11). pmid:30388129
  64. 64. Bindoff NL, Cheung WWL, Kairo JG, Arístegui J, Guinder VA, Hallberg R, et al. Changing Ocean, Marine Ecosystems, and Dependent Communities. In: Pörtner HO, Roberts DC, Masson-Delmotte V, Zhai P, Tignor M, Poloczanska E, et al., editors. IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. 2019. p. 447–588.
  65. 65. Otto IM, Reckien D, Reyer CP, Marcus R, Le Masson V, Jones L, et al. Social vulnerability to climate change: a review of concepts and evidence. Reg Environ Change. 2017;17:1651–62.
  66. 66. Thomas K, Hardy RD, Lazrus H, Mendez M, Orlove B, Rivera-Collazo I, et al. Explaining differential vulnerability to climate change: A social science review. WIREs Climate Change. 2019;10(e565). pmid:31007726
  67. 67. Cinner JE, Barnes ML. Social Dimensions of Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems. One Earth. 2019;1:51–6.
  68. 68. Equity Ikeme J., environmental justice and sustainability: incomplete approaches in climate change politics. Global Environmental Change. 2003;13(3):195–206.
  69. 69. Wilson SM, Richard R, Joseph L, Williams E. Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and Vulnerability: An Exploratory Spatial Analysis. Environmental Justice. 2010;3(1):13–9.
  70. 70. Himes-Cornell A, Kasperski S. Assessing climate change vulnerability in Alaska’s fishing communities. Fish Res. 2015;162:1–11.
  71. 71. Morzaria-luna HN, Turk-boyer P, Moreno-baez M. Social indicators of vulnerability for fishing communities in the Northern Gulf of California, Mexico: Implications for climate change. Mar Policy. 2014;45:182–93.
  72. 72. Sowman M, Raemaekers S. Socio-ecological vulnerability assessment in coastal communities in the BCLME region. Journal of Marine Systems. 2018;188:160–71.
  73. 73. Rogers LA, Griffin R, Young T, Fuller E, St. Martin K, Pinsky ML. Shifting habitats expose fishing communities to risk under climate change. Nat Clim Chang. 2019;9(7):512–6.
  74. 74. Kasperski S, Holland DS. Income diversification and risk for fishermen. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences United States of America. 2013;110(6):2076–81. pmid:23341621
  75. 75. Anderson SC, Ward EJ, Shelton AO, Adkison MD, Beaudreau AH, Brenner RE, et al. Benefits and risks of diversification for individual fishers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences United States of America. 2017;114(40):10797–802. pmid:28923938
  76. 76. Metcalf S, van Putten El, Frusher S, Marshall N, Malcolm T, Caputi N, et al. Measuring the vulnerability of marine social-ecological systems: a prerequisite for the identification of climate change adaptations. Ecology and Society. 2015;20(2).
  77. 77. Thiault L, Gelcich S, Marshall N, Marshall P, Chlous F, Claudet J. Operationalizing vulnerability for social–ecological integration in conservation and natural resource management. Conserv Lett. 2020;13(e12677).
  78. 78. Renn O. Concepts of Risk: An Interdisciplinary Review Part 1: Disciplinary Risk Concepts. Gaia. 2008;17(1):50–66.
  79. 79. Flynn J, Slovic P, Mertz CK. Gender, Race, and Perception of Environmental Health Risks. Risk Analysis. 1994;14. pmid:7846319
  80. 80. Poe MR, Norman KC, Levin PS. Cultural dimensions of socioecological systems: Key connections and guiding principles for conservation in coastal environments. Conserv Lett. 2014;7(3):166–75.
  81. 81. Colburn LL, Jepson M. Social Indicators of Gentrification Pressure in Fishing Communities: A Context for Social Impact Assessment. Coastal Management. 2012;40(3):289–300.
  82. 82. Colburn LL, Jepson M, Weng C, Seara T, Weiss J, Hare JA. Indicators of climate change and social vulnerability in fishing dependent communities along the Eastern and Gulf Coasts of the United States. Mar Policy. 2016;74:323–33.
  83. 83. Renn O. The Challenge of Integrating Deliberation and Expertise: Participation and Discourse in Risk Management. Risk Analysis and Society. 2003 Jun 17;289–366.
  84. 84. Slovic P. Perception of risk. Science. 1987;236(4799).
  85. 85. Peters E, Slovic P. The Role of Affect and Worldviews as Orienting Dispositions in the Perception and Acceptance of Nuclear Power. J Appl Soc Psychol. 1996;26(16):1427–53.
  86. 86. Jaeger C, Durrenberger G, Kastenholz H, Truffer B. Determinants of environmental action with regard to climate change. Clim Change. 1993;193–211.
  87. 87. Ballew MT, Leiserowitz A, Roser-Renouf C, Rosenthal SA, Kotcher JE, Marlon JR, et al. Climate Change in the American Mind: Data, Tools, and Trends. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development. 2019;61(3):4–18.
  88. 88. Howe PD, Marlon JR, Wang X, Leiserowitz A. Public perceptions of the health risks of extreme heat across US states, counties, and neighborhoods. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2019;116(14):6743–8. pmid:30862729
  89. 89. Weber EU. What shapes perceptions of climate change? Wiley Interdiscip Rev Clim Change. 2010;1(3):332–42.
  90. 90. Sullivan A, White DD. An Assessment of Public Perceptions of Climate Change Risk in Three Western U.S. Cities. Weather, Climate, and Society. 2019;11(2):449–63.
  91. 91. Spence A, Poortinga W, Butler C, Pidgeon NF. Perceptions of climate change and willingness to save energy related to flood experience. Nat Clim Chang. 2011;1(1):46–9.
  92. 92. Weber EU, Stern PC. Public Understanding of Climate Change in the United States. American Psychologist. 2011;66(4):315–28. pmid:21553956
  93. 93. Howe PD, Mildenberger M, Marlon JR, Leiserowitz A. Geographic variation in opinions on climate change at state and local scales in the USA. Nat Clim Chang. 2015;5(6):596–603.
  94. 94. Zaval L, Keenan EA, Johnson EJ, Weber EU. How warm days increase belief in global warming. Nat Clim Chang. 2014;4.
  95. 95. Cullen AC, Anderson CL. Perception of Climate Risk among Rural Farmers in Vietnam: Consistency within Households and with the Empirical Record. Risk Analysis. 2017;37(3):531–45. pmid:27163201
  96. 96. Slovic P. The Perception of Risk. Earthscan Publications; 2000.
  97. 97. Mayer A, Shelley TO, Chiricos T, Gertz M. Environmental Risk Exposure, Risk Perception, Political Ideology and Support for Climate Policy. Sociol Focus. 2017;50(4).
  98. 98. Smith EK, Mayer A. A social trap for the climate? Collective action, trust and climate change risk perception in 35 countries. Global Environmental Change. 2018;49:140–53.
  99. 99. Nelson LK. Charting a course forward for coastal communities: Considering perceptions and values in climate vulnerability assessments. [Seattle]: University of Washington; 2021. Available from:
  100. 100. Dillman DA, Smyth JD, Christian LM. Internet, phone, mail, and mixed-mode surveys: The tailored design method. Fourth. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley; 2014.
  101. 101. Breslow SJ, Allen M, Holstein D, Sojka B, Barnea R, Basurto X, et al. Evaluating indicators of human well-being for ecosystem-based management. Ecosystem Health and Sustainability. 2017;3(12):1–18.
  102. 102. Cullen AC, Anderson CL, Biscaye P, Reynolds TW. Variability in Cross-Domain Risk Perception among Smallholder Farmers in Mali by Gender and Other Demographic and Attitudinal Characteristics. Risk Analysis. 2018;38(7):1361–77. pmid:29446112
  103. 103. Schumann S. Commercial Fisheries Resilience Planning: A Tool for Industry Empowerment. 2018.
  104. 104. Samhouri JF, Levin PS. Linking land- and sea-based activities to risk in coastal ecosystems. Biol Conserv. 2012;145(1):118–29.
  105. 105. Kruskal WH, Wallis WA. Use of Ranks in One-Criterion Variance Analysis. J Am Stat Assoc. 1952;47(260):583–621.
  106. 106. Charrad M, Ghazzali N, Boiteau V, Niknafs A. Nbclust: An R Package for Determining the Relevant Number of Clusters in a Data Set. J Stat Softw. 2014;61(6):1–36.
  107. 107. Team RC. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna, Austria: R Foundation for Statistical Computing; 2021.
  108. 108. ATLAS.ti Scientific Software Development G. ATLAS.ti.
  109. 109. Kasperson R, Kirstin D, Archer E, Caceres D, Downing T, Elmqvist T, et al. Vulnerable peoples and places. In: Hassan R, Scholes R, Ash N, editors. Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Current State and Trends. Washington, DC: Island Press; 2005. p. 143–64.
  110. 110. Aven T, Renn O. Improving government policy on risk: Eight key principles. Reliab Eng Syst Saf. 2018;176:230–41.
  111. 111. Ensor JE, Abernethy KE, Hoddy ET, Aswani S, Albert S, Vaccaro I, et al. Variation in perception of environmental change in nine Solomon Islands communities: implications for securing fairness in community-based adaptation. Reg Environ Change. 2018;18:1131–43.
  112. 112. Mortreux C, Barnett J. Adaptive capacity: exploring the research frontier. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Clim Change. 2017;8(4):e467.
  113. 113. Clayton S, Devine-Wright P, Stern PC, Whitmarsh L, Carrico A, Steg L, et al. Psychological research and global climate change. Nat Clim Chang. 2015;5.
  114. 114. Brenkert-Smith H, Champ PA, Flores N. Insights into Wildfire Mitigation Decisions Among Wildland-Urban Interface Residents. Soc Nat Resour. 2006;19:759–68.
  115. 115. Grothmann T, Patt A. Adaptive capacity and human cognition: The process of individual adaptation to climate change. Global Environmental Change. 2005;15(3):199–213.
  116. 116. McClenachan L, Scyphers S, Grabowski JH. Views from the dock: Warming waters, adaptation, and the future of Maine’s lobster fishery. Ambio. 2020;49(1):144–55. pmid:30852777
  117. 117. Leiserowitz AA. American risk perceptions: Is climate change dangerous? Risk Analysis. 2005;25(6):1433–42. pmid:16506973
  118. 118. Goldberg MH, Gustafson A, Rosenthal SA, Leiserowitz A. Shifting Republican views on climate change through targeted advertising. Nat Clim Chang. 2021;11:573–7.
  119. 119. Lee JJ. Party Polarization and Trust in Science: What about Democrats? Socius. 2021;7:1–12.
  120. 120. Cooley S, Schoeman D, Bopp L, Boyd P, Donner S, Ghebrehiwet DY, et al. Ocean and Coastal Ecosystems and their Services. In: Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 2022.
  121. 121. Gattuso JP, Magnan A, Billé R, Cheung WWL, Howes EL, Joos F, et al. Contrasting futures for ocean and society from different anthropogenic CO2 emissions scenarios. Science. 2015;349(6243).