Skip to main content
Unsupported Browser Detected

Internet Explorer lacks support for the features of this website. For the best experience, please use a modern browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.

Request for Comments: NOAA Fisheries’ Draft Strategy for Advancing Equity and Environmental Justice

May 16, 2022

FB22-027: Southeast Fishery Bulletin; For more information, contact: Heather Blough: 727-304-0131,

Key Message:

NOAA Fisheries invites feedback on our draft Equity and Environmental Justice Strategy. Comments are due August 31, 2022.


NOAA Fisheries is committed to advancing equity and environmental justice, including equal treatment, opportunities, and environmental benefits for all people and communities, while building on continuing efforts and partnerships with underserved and underrepresented communities. To help guide our work in this area, we developed our first Equity and Environmental Justice Strategy. This strategy describes the path that we will take to incorporate equity and environmental justice into the vital services we provide to all stakeholders. 

The three overarching goals of the strategy are to: 

  1. Prioritize identification, equitable treatment, and meaningful involvement of underserved communities;
  2. Provide equitable delivery of services; and 
  3. Prioritize equity and environmental justice in our mandated and mission work. 

We intend to accomplish these goals by:

  1. Providing an empowering environment within the agency to support multiple equity and environmental justice approaches;
  2. Incorporating equity and environmental justice into agency policies and plans; 
  3. Achieving equity in research and researching equity;
  4. Increasing engagement;
  5. Distributing benefits equitably; and
  6. Promoting inclusive governance. 

How You Can Help

NOAA Fisheries’ science, conservation, and management activities serve diverse communities across the United States and territories. However, not all communities have equal opportunities and access to agency-led services. Through this call for public comment, we seek assistance in several areas, including help to identify:

  • Who the agency’s underserved communities are;
  • How the agency can reduce barriers to underserved communities;
  • How the agency can better incorporate equity and environmental justice into our daily activities;
  • How we can improve equity in our programs and policies now, with our current resources, and in the future; and
  • Whether our draft recommended actions are on target.

How To Comment On The Draft Strategy  

The comment period is open now through August 31, 2022. In addition to submitting written comments online, you can comment at webinars, by phone, and at in-person meetings. The webinars will be held on:

  • May 24, 2022, from 4:00-6:00 pm Eastern time
  • June 21, 2022, from 3:00-5:00 pm Pacific time 
  • June 30, 2022, from 1:00-3:00 pm Hawaii time
  • July 19, 2022, from 4:00-6:00 pm Eastern time


Registration links for these webinars will be posted on our website when available. Additional in-person meetings and opportunities to comment via phone will be announced as those plans are finalized.

For more information, contact: Heather Blough: 727-304-0131,

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is NOAA Fisheries’ draft Equity and Environmental Justice Strategy? 

NOAA Fisheries’ draft EEJ Strategy provides a framework to incorporate EEJ into our daily activities. It identifies step-down implementation plans at the regional level; seeks to remove barriers to EEJ; and seeks to promote equity in all we do at NOAA Fisheries.

Who/what are the driving forces behind the development of this draft strategy? 

NOAA Fisheries' draft EEJ Strategy builds on executive orders promoting equity, recommendations from the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, action items from the Department of Commerce Equity Action Plan, and guidance from the NOAA Climate Council. In addition, this strategy is driven by strong support from NOAA Fisheries’ leadership, enthusiastic staff participation, and a clear and growing need from underserved communities.

Is this strategy a new effort within NOAA Fisheries? 

No, this strategy builds on NOAA Fisheries’ previous equity and environmental justice efforts to provide guidance for incorporating and prioritizing EEJ in ongoing and future activities in support of the NOAA Fisheries’ mission.

Have Tribal Nations been consulted? 

Yes, early in the process, we held two consultation webinars open to members of Tribal Nations.

Does NOAA Fisheries’ have the budget resources to support implementation of this strategy?

Many of the actions contained in this strategy can be accomplished within current resources.  Some cannot be.  That is why the President included a specific request for additional funding for NOAA Fisheries for Equity and Environmental Justice work in both his FY 2022 and FY 2023 proposed budgets.  So while some actions can be taken immediately, others will depend on Congressional funding of the President's FY 2023 budget and may not be implementable in the near term.  Some would take even longer to implement. The actions we are able to take immediately will be identified in the implementation plans.

What’s NOAA Fisheries EEJ Working Group and what’s its focus? 

To advance our commitment to EEJ, NOAA Fisheries convened the Equity and Environmental Justice Working Group (EEJ WG). This group includes members from Headquarters, Regional Offices, and Science Centers. The EEJ WG’s charge is to:

  • Provide input on Fisheries’ responses to executive orders and NOAA requests focused on equity, environmental justice, and support for underserved communities;
  • Share information about Fisheries’ efforts to embed EEJ into our external and programmatic work
  • Create a strategy that identifies current initiatives, envisions a more equitable future, and outlines a roadmap to that goal

What are NOAA Fisheries’ current EEJ initiatives? 

Within NOAA Fisheries, at least 167 programs or initiatives promote EEJ. These efforts include:

  • Empowering Environment: Activities that provide the institutional support, including training and resources, needed to implement multiple EEJ approaches at NOAA Fisheries.
  • Policy & Plans: Activities that ensure that our policies promote equal opportunities for all and do not create unintended inequities or unequal burdens for underserved communities.
  • Research & Monitoring: Activities that identify underserved communities, address their needs, and assess impacts of management decisions.
  • Outreach & Engagement: Activities that build relationships with underserved communities to better understand their needs, and improve information sharing with all stakeholders.
  • Benefits: Activities that distribute benefits equitably among stakeholders by increasing the access to opportunities for underserved communities.
  • Inclusive Governance: Activities that support the meaningful involvement of underserved communities in the decision-making processes.

What are the Executive Orders that promoted NOAA Fisheries to form the EEJ working group? 

There are 4 Executive Orders we are responding to:

  • EO 13985: Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government 
  • EO 14008: Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad
  • EO 12898: Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low Income Populations 
  • EO 13175: Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments

How are you defining "equity"? 

As defined in Executive Order 13985, equity means the consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, including individuals who belong to underserved communities that have been denied such treatment, such as Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.

How are you defining "environmental justice"?  

Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race, color, gender, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies including but not limited to: 

  • Equitable protection from environmental and health hazards;
  • Equitable access to decision-making processes;
  • Equitable opportunity for disadvantaged communities that have been historically marginalized.

How are you defining "underserved communities"? 

Underserved communities have been systematically denied a full opportunity to participate in aspects of economic, social, and civic life. These include geographic communities as well as populations sharing a particular characteristic such as: women and girls; Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and other persons of color; persons facing discrimination or barriers related to gender identity; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.

Is this effort just a re-branding of existing activities? 

No, this national strategy describes the path that NOAA Fisheries will take to incorporate EEJ into the vital services we provide to all stakeholders.  

Read the Draft Equity and Environmental Justice Strategy

Sign Up For Text Message Alerts - Find Out About Immediate Openings and Closures

NOAA's Text Message Alert Program allows you to receive important fishery related alerts via text message (SMS).  Standard message & data rates may apply. You may opt-out at any time.

Text alerts you may receive include:

  • Immediate fishery openings and closures
  • Any significant changes to fishing regulations that happen quickly

Sign up for one or more of the following groups:

  • Gulf of Mexico Recreational Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text GULFRECFISH to 888777
  • Gulf of Mexico Commercial Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text GULFCOMMFISH to 888777
  • South Atlantic Recreational Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text SATLRECFISH to 888777
  • South Atlantic Commercial Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text SATLCOMMFISH to 888777
  • Caribbean Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text CARIBFISH to 888777 us every other Friday on NOAA Fish Instagram for Rec Fish Friday! 

Other contacts:

Media: Allison Garrett, 727-551-5750


Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on June 16, 2022