March 25, 2016

Helping Wellfleet Harbor Shellfish Industry Plan for Climate Change

MIT Sea Grant's web developer, Ben Bray, and Social and Environmental Research Institute Research Fellow, Seth Tuler, P.h.D, created a website, Planning for Climate Change Impacts on Shellfish in Wellfleet Harbor, to showcase findings about the impacts of climate change on shellfish and shellfishing in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. The website provides an overview of the climate-related threats to shellfish and commercial shellfishing in Wellfleet Harbor and potential strategies that can be considered by the Town of Wellfleet to prevent and mitigate their impacts. The research summarized on this website was funded by a grant from NOAA’s Climate Program Office.

Wellfleet is a leader in commercial shellfish production for the state of Massachusetts. Shellfish play a vital role in the ecology of Wellfleet Harbor and the economy of Wellfleet. Commercial shellfish production in the state is worth approximately $4.5 million dollars, about 23% of the shellfish landings.

Shellfish are particularly vulnerable to climate change and variability. The National Marine Fisheries Service ranks shellfish as among the most vulnerable of fish stocks in the northeastern US.

The website makes findings that are useful at the local level accessible to the people who need it. Often reports that contain critical information don't reach individual businessmen, or community boards and committees responsible for many of the activities that impact the harbor and shellfishing. Providing data and information online in a format that is easy to digest will allow community members to make informed decisions in their short and long term future plans.

This website summarizes the research conducted by a Working Group on Climate Change Impacts on Shellfishing in Wellfleet Harbor. The group met from 2013 – 2015 to discuss and learn about the following :

- Threats to shellfishing in Wellfleet Harbor from climate change
- The role of shellfish in mitigating impacts from climate change and other environmental hazards in Wellfleet Harbor
- Strategies to increase the resilience of Wellfleet and its shellfishery in a time of climate change.

Learn more about the Working Group and the VCAPS Process.

Potential Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on Shellfish Resources
Potential Impacts to Health of Harbor, Shellfish Resources, and Commercial Shellfishing in Wellfleet Harbor From Sea Level Rise
Adaptation Strategies to Address the Potential Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on Shellfish Resources in Wellfleet Harbor
Presentation slides of potential impacts to shellfish from climate change
Sea Level Rise and Sedimentation in Wellfleet: Climate Change Impacts on Shellfishing in Wellfleet Harbor