On August 25, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries released a Climate Science Strategy, with seven steps aimed at mitigating the effects of oceanic climate change. In the strategy's foreword, the Assistant Administrator of NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, Eileen Sobeck, writes, “From shrinking Arctic sea ice to west coast droughts, bleaching corals and rising seas, our world is changing and we need to respond to help safeguard these valuable ecosystems and the people who depend on them.” She is confident that her Agency's Climate Science Strategy "will help reduce [climate] impacts and increase the resilience of our valuable living marine resources.”

NOAA Fisheries, which manages marine species conservation and fisheries, sees a clear need to better understand the ways climate change is affecting fish stocks and vulnerable species. To this end, NOAA outlines seven objectives to increase the collection and use of ocean-focused climate data:

  • Identify pertinent climate information;
  • Find strategies for managing the ocean's resources under climate-changed conditions;
  • Design adaptive measures and decision processes for managing changing environments;
  • Predict the future state of ecosystems under climate change;
  • Study the mechanisms through which climate change will affect ecosystems;
  • Track trends in ecosystems and coastal communities to provide early warnings of change; and
  • Build the scientific infrastructure needed to deal with a changing climate.

NOAA plans to work with other federal agencies, tribes, and fishery management councils in the development of Regional Action Plans (RAPs) which will tailor NOAA's overall strategy to local needs, and implement it over the next three to five years. The RAPs will help disseminate information across the United States in an efficient and succinct manner, and empower regions to make informed decisions about impacts they can expect from a changing climate.


Author: Alison Alford