Adaptive management is an approach to dealing with large uncertainty in management of a fishery and refers to the ability to respond to problems in real time by having the necessary baseline information (11). This approach is often colloquialized as “learning by doing”, meaning management needs to be implemented as an experiment, readily adjusted given new data or situations (12). The process of adaptive management is often a difficult one, requiring planning from the onset to define management questions and adequate baseline data (13).
The PCRG is not a management entity and as such does not play a role in defining management questions. However, the PCRG can play a role in filling research gaps for baseline data that is critical for co-managers to begin asking relevant, pressing questions. These data gaps can include recruitment success, spatial heterogeneity of various life stages, and, perhaps most pressingly, the impacts of climate change on crab populations. Fisheries are inherently variable and prone to unexpected shocks, and climate change is going to present more uncertainty (14,15), and the Dungeness crab fishery is no exception, experiencing fluctuations season to season (16). Dungeness crab are already experiencing impacts on development as a result of ocean acidification (17) and abundance and distribution can be indirectly impacted through habitat availability and changes in food web dynamics due to climate change (16,18).
The PCRG ranked adaptive management as the second highest priority management theme, however, adaptive management requires the cumulative information from the aforementioned management themes to be successful. The group is committed to leveraging resources and expertise to provide high quality information to co-managers to inform decisions and adapt to uncertainty in the Dungeness crab fishery. By providing expertise and research capacity throughout the process of “learning by doing”, it is more likely that adaptive management can be successfully implemented for the sustainability of Dungeness crab (13).