Data from over 2,500 reefs worldwide is used to identify 15 bright spots—sites where reef biomass is significantly higher than expected—and surveys of local experts in these areas suggest that strong sociocultural institutions and high levels of local engagement are among the factors supporting higher fish biomass.

Coastal communities are particularly at risk from the impacts of a changing climate. Building the capacity of coastal communities to cope with and recover from a changing environment is a critical means to reducing their vulnerability. Yet, few studies have quantitatively examined adaptive capacity in such communities. Here, we build on an emerging body of research examining adaptive capacity in natural resource-dependent communities in two important ways. We examine how nine indicators of adaptive capacity vary: among segments of Kenyan fishing communities; and over time.

Globally, fisheries are challenged by the combined impacts of overfishing, degradation of ecosystems and impacts of climate change, while fisheries livelihoods are further pressured by conservation policy imperatives. Fishers' adaptive responses to these pressures, such as exiting from a fishery to pursue alternative livelihoods, determine their own vulnerability, as well as the potential for reducing fishing effort and sustaining fisheries.