Adaptation involves both proactively preparing for expected climate changes, as well as adjusting to climate change or its impacts after they occur. Minimally, adaptation can serve to moderate the harmful impacts of change, or allow for positive outcomes by taking advantage of new arising opportunities. Both human and natural systems can adapt to climate change and/or to the impacts of climate changes. While natural ecosystems can only adjust to climate changes once they occur, human communities can plan by using climate predictions to anticipate the impacts and benefits of climate change. Successful adaptation actions will mean that the impacts of climate change could be reduced or be less severe than if no adaptations had occurred. For communities, successful adaptation may mean that adaptation strategies allow them to function (economically, socially, built environmentally, and institutionally) even after the disturbances occur.
Effective climate change adaptation requires a strategic stepwise approach that includes identifying climate impacts within the context of the MaPP region. This would include initial assessments of vulnerability and risk in order to prioritize adaptation actions, and an adaptation plan that fits the governance structure and communities at stake. Across Canada, awareness of climate change impacts and the necessity of adaptation planning is increasing . In British Columbia, the provincial Adaptation Strategy  aims to prepare the province for the impacts of climate change to the environment and social systems. Under the BC Climate Action Plan, there are a range of actions that are intended to help increase resilience to climate change and reduce vulnerabilities. This adaptation plan is based on three key components: building a strong knowledge base with tools for decision makers to prepare for climate change, incorporating climate adaptation within policy decisions, and improving assessment and implementation of appropriate adaptation actions in especially vulnerable sectors . While these reports and adaptation plans are encouraging and signify a shift in management and governance investment in climate adaptation, there has been until recently far less investment in adaptation research and planning for coastal management and fisheries sectors when compared to terrestrial areas and sectors such as forestry and agriculture .