The Atlantic surfclam (Spisula solidissima) is a dominant member of the biological community of the Middle Atlantic Bight continental shelf and a commercially harvested species. Climate warming is affecting the biology and distribution of this species, which provides an opportunity to investigate the processes and conditions that are restructuring this fishery and the implications for ecological and socioeconomic systems. A Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) developed for the surfclam fishery provides a mechanistic description of the surfclam's response to climate change and understanding of the cascade of effects initiated by changes in oceanographic conditions that ultimately appear as social and economic effects. This understanding in turn informs development of management policies for the resource. This overview considers the components of the surfclam MSE, relevant results, and implications for management and policy. The lessons learned from the surfclam MSE provide a basis for applying similar approaches to other ecologically important species that are also commercially exploitable resources.
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Vol. 37 • No. 4