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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Increasing Tribal Climate Adaptive Capacity for Coastal Resources in the Northeast

Research Partners:
Beckie Finn, Andrew Jacobs & Bret Stearns Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah)
Darren Ranco University of Maine
Allison Roy & Jon Woodruff University of Massachusetts
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
Rhode Island
West Virginia
+11 more
In Progress


Fish that migrate between fresh and salt waters, called diadromous fishes, are integral to coastal Tribal cultures as subsistence foods. Throughout their Northeast range, diadromous fish populations have shown strong declines over recent decades due to the combined impacts of habitat loss, pollution, overfishing, and climate change. These changes have led to decreasing access to traditional subsistence foods and connection to Tribal culture. It is therefore imperative to conduct habitat, population and other studies that assess cumulative impacts and identify actions to restore, protect, and adapt Tribal Trust Resources (i.e. river herring (alewife and blueback) and American eels). 

This project will collaborate with Northeast Tribal Nations to adapt coastal resources to climate change impacts in order to develop sustainable fisheries. The primary focus will be on enhancing an emerging relationship with the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) to design an assessment and monitoring plan for the Menemsha Pond Complex, an ecologically and culturally important system that feeds a 1,280 acre watershed, located on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.  

Project outcomes are anticipated to increase Tribal climate adaptation capacity and information exchange between the Northeast CASC and Northeast Tribes. Tribal youth research and educational opportunities will also be developed. Results will inform ongoing Tribal Climate Vulnerability and Adaptation Plans in the northeast region as well as future iterations of the Tribal Adaptation Menu of Northeast coastal Tribal priorities.