Societies have adapted to climate and environmental variability throughout history. However, projected climate change poses multiple risks to mariculture because of the increased frequency of environmental threats that lie outside the realm of present day experience. Adaptive capacity evaluated in this study is a characteristic that would reflect mariculture industries ability to anticipate and respond to these changes, and to minimize, cope with, and recover from the consequences and take advantage of new opportunities arising from change. Drawing on a survey to 90 mussel mariculture companies in Chiloe-Chile, we have characterized the way the industry has adapted and recovered from specific stressors in productive capacity, namely; reduced mussel growth rates and reduced larval supply. We additionally assess determinants of the mussel industry's willingness to invest in building capacity to anticipate changes through analysing mussel aquaculture companies' assets to draw upon in times of need (capital; access to credit), the flexibility to change strategies, the companies' perception of the industry's social organization to act collectively (social capital), and their response to hypothetical scenarios regarding shocks in productive capacity. Results show heterogeneity in production decisions when facing environmental stressors. Results also show that the industry adapts in heterogeneous ways and that financial assets and social capital drive willingness to invest in adaptive capacity. Understanding past adaptation strategies and the willingness of the industry to invest in anticipating stressors allows us to begin exploring the consequences of new stressors. Importantly, as Chile and other countries are developing adaptation plans to face the multiple stressors of climate change, information about stakeholders' existing adaptation strategies and their determinants is becoming a critical bottleneck to inform these processes and assure they are in line with stakeholder needs and interest. While we use the Chilean mussel industry as a working example, the approach presented can inform other countries/regions wishing to explore the adaptive capacity of their aquaculture sectors.
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