, Volume 79, Issue 6, pp 755–773 | Cite as

A framework to assess the vulnerability of California commercial sea urchin fishermen to the impact of MPAs under climate change

  • Cheryl ChenEmail author
  • David López-Carr
  • Barbara Louise Endemaño Walker


This paper describes the development of a Livelihood Vulnerability Index (LVI) that estimates the relative ability of California commercial sea urchin fishermen to cope with the change associated with proposed marine protected areas. A key goal in establishing marine protected areas is to maximize conservation benefits while minimizing the potential negative impacts to local fishing communities. However, current impact analyses largely assume a linear relationship between percent of fishing area or revenue lost with the magnitude of impact to fishermen. The LVI described in this paper aims to provide an additional dimension to impact analyses in which the adaptive capacity of individual fishermen is examined to estimate the differential abilities of fishermen to cope with the loss of fishing areas or revenue. This paper advances vulnerability assessments as it develops a novel framework for identifying and measuring drivers of vulnerability for understudied fishing populations whose livelihoods depend upon marine resources. This vulnerability assessment is intended to inform the design of marine protected areas by enabling researchers to incorporate the adaptive capacity of fishermen into socioeconomic impact analyses. The LVI was developed for the California commercial sea urchin fishery in the context of proposed marine protected area networks develop through the California Marine Life Protected Act planning process. As climate change advances there is an increasing need to identify vulnerable and resilient populations and ways to bolster adaptive capacity given the environmental and economic changes ahead.


Vulnerability Adaptive capacity Marine protected areas Marine spatial planning Fishermen Sea urchin 



Funding for this research was provided by the University of California, Santa Barbara and Ecotrust. Our deepest thanks is extended to all the fishermen who participated in interviews and graciously contributed their time and knowledge to this project. We’d also like to thank the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and our colleagues for their review of drafts, advice, and continued support of this work: Charles Steinback, William Freudenburg, Carla Guenther, Tammy Ellwell, Taylor Hesselgrave, Jon Bonkoski, Leanne Weiss, Nick Lyman, Jennifer Bloeser, Kristen Sheeran, and Megan George.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cheryl Chen
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • David López-Carr
    • 2
  • Barbara Louise Endemaño Walker
    • 3
  1. 1.Point 97 (A Company of Ecotrust)PortlandUSA
  2. 2.Geography DepartmentUniversity of California, Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic ResearchUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA

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