As part of its efforts to increase the production, delivery, and use of climate-related information, today, NOAA Fisheries released a draft climate science action plan for the U.S. West Coast. It outlines a strategy and specific actions for increasing understanding, preparing for, and responding to climate change effects on the region’s species and the people that depend on them, including marine and anadromous fish, invertebrates, marine mammals, sea turtles and seabirds.
Scientists can use the plan to prioritize and identify research gaps; while managers can use the results to identify potential impacts on resources and identify management approaches to reduce impacts on protected species and increase resilience of fish stocks, fisheries, and fishing-dependent communities.
The ultimate goal is to develop science-based strategies to sustain our trust resources and resource-dependent communities in a changing climate. Each of NOAA Fisheries regional science centers were required to develop regional climate science action plans in response to the release of the national
NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy.
“Climate-related variability is already affecting resources in ocean, coastal and freshwater ecosystems, as well as the people, businesses and communities that depend on them,” said Cisco Werner, Director of NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center. “We hope this plan will provide resource managers with the information they need to make informed decisions to ensure the sustainability of commercially important U.S. fish stocks and to conserve and recover protected species now and in the future.”
The California Current Large Marine Ecosystem (CCLME), which extends from Canada to Mexico, supports extensive commercial, tribal, and recreational fisheries for finfish and invertebrates, including anchovy, hake, halibut, rockfish, salmon, sardine, squid, shrimp, tunas and Dungeness crab. Many protected species, including marine mammals and migratory birds, inhabit the California Current. Highly migratory species from throughout the Pacific use this ecosystem as a nursery area, migratory corridor, and/or feeding ground. The waters are used extensively for recreation and transportation.
NOAA’s Northwest and Southwest Fisheries Science Centers are responsible for collecting, analyzing and communicating the scientific information necessary to fulfill the NMFS mission to sustain our trust species in watersheds, estuaries and the coastal ocean of the CCLME. The Western Regional Action Plan focuses on present climate variability and future climate change in the CCLME.
“This plan builds on the work that we have already underway in the region to address climate change,” said John Stein, director of NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center. “For instance, we’ve been leaders in developing the California Current Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (CCIEA) as a tool for implementing ecosystem-based fisheries management. We have been gathering ecosystem information and monitoring climate indicators through our surveys and with partners. For more than 60 years we have partnered with the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI). And we are providing information in an annual state-of-the-ecosystem report to managers at the Pacific Fishery Management Council to support their efforts to implement their Fishery Ecosystem Plan.”
The core elements of the new plan include establishing a NOAA Fisheries West Coast Climate Action Committee and Program, building scientific expertise, advancing data collection methodologies, continuing development of the CCIEA, completing climate vulnerability assessments for species living in the CCLME, conducting management strategy evaluations and disseminating new climate-related science and information. Designed to increase the production, delivery, and use of climate-related information, the plan will guide our efforts to provide timely information to managers to reduce impacts and increase resilience of fisheries, protected species and coastal communities.
If you have questions about the plan, please contact Ruth.Howell@noaa.gov. Written comments can be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 30, 2016.