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NOAA Fisheries Invites Public Comment on New Draft Equity and Environmental Justice Strategy

May 04, 2022

Comments will be accepted online until August 31 as well as at national webinars and in-person meetings.

Family-fishing Corey Arnold, courtesy of Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.jpg

NOAA Fisheries shared its first-ever draft Equity and Environmental Justice Strategy and invited public comments through August 31. In addition to accepting written comments, we will host four webinars on the strategy, where comments will be accepted. Additional in-person meetings and opportunities to comment via phone will be announced on a rolling basis, once those plans are finalized.

“NOAA Fisheries is focused on serving all communities more equitably and effectively, and this strategy will provide the framework to do just that,” said Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries and NOAA’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere, Janet Coit.

“We are 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,” she added.

Goals and Objectives

The agency identified three overarching, long-term goals in the strategy. They are:

  • Prioritize identification, equitable treatment, and meaningful involvement of underserved communities
  • Provide equitable delivery of services
  • Prioritize equity and environmental justice in our mandated and mission work

The agency also identified six short-term objectives in the strategy. They are: 

  • Provide an empowering environment within the agency to support multiple equity and environmental justice approaches at NOAA Fisheries
  • Incorporate equity and environmental justice in agency policies and plans
  • Achieve equity in research and researching equity
  • Outreach and engage equitably
  • Equitably distribute benefits
  • Ensure inclusive governance
Fish store with coolers of fresh fish for sale.
Store with coolers of fresh fish for sale. Photo courtesy of Daystar Fish Store.

This national strategy is the result of guidance from recent Executive Orders, the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, the Department of Commerce’s Equity Action Plan, NOAA’s Climate Council and agency leadership, enthusiastic staff participation, and a clear and growing need indicated by underserved communities. The strategy also builds on our previous equity and environmental justice efforts to provide guidance for incorporating and prioritizing EEJ in ongoing and future activities in support of our mission.

“While we are making progress in addressing equity and environmental justice, we know that we have much more work to do to embed EEJ into our day-to-day efforts,” said NOAA Fisheries Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, Sam Rauch, who also convened and led the agency’s EEJ Working Group. “By focusing on these goals and objectives we will provide more equitable stewardship of the nation's ocean resources and their habitat.”



Executive Summary of the Strategy


An explanation of the Equity and Environmental Justice Strategy and how to provide comments.

How You Can Help

Fishing in the Pacific Islands
Fishing in the Pacific Islands.

NOAA Fisheries’ science, conservation, and management activities serve a diverse array of 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

  • Help evaluating whether the draft recommendations for action are on target

How to Provide Comment

Woman smiling at outdoor marketplace
Woman smiling at outdoor market.

You can provide comments online. You can also comment at webinars, by phone, and at in-person meetings. The webinars will be held on:

May 24, 2022 4 pm Eastern

Register for May 24 webinar

June 21, 2022 at 6 pm Eastern

Register for June 21 webinar

June 30, 2022 at 7 pm Eastern 

Register for June 30 webinar

July 19, 2022 at 4 pm Eastern 

Register for July 19 webinar

Achieving Our Goals

To achieve our initial equity and environmental justice goals, each of the agency’s national program offices and geographic regions will incorporate EEJ into a step-down implementation plan. These plans will be specific and responsive to the needs of underserved communities and allows for the input of underserved communities. Each program, science center, and regional office will set equity and environmental justice as a Priority Area or milestone in annual strategic planning starting in 2023. And, the agency’s step-down implementation plans will include metrics describing equity and environmental justice actions. Our progress will be publicly reported annually in an EEJ Scorecard.

“To be clear, this strategy does not endorse business as usual and is not a rebranding of existing activities. Rather, this national strategy describes the path that NOAA Fisheries will take to incorporate EEJ into the vital services we provide to all stakeholders,” said Coit.

Dutch Harbor, Alaska panoramic
Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Credit: NOAA Fisheries

Last updated by Office of Communications on August 08, 2022

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