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NOAA Fisheries Releases Updated Climate Science Regional Action Plans

June 29, 2023

NOAA Fisheries is building upon its ongoing efforts to address climate change with new Climate Science Regional Action Plans focused on actions through 2024.

An ocean covered in ice floes stretches towards the horizon. Climate Science Regional Action Plans include steps to address climate change in Arctic ecosystems such as the Beaufort Sea. Credit: Dr. Pablo Clemente-Colon/National Ice Center

Climate change is putting our Nation’s marine life—and the people who depend on it—at great risk. We are committed to working with partners to better understand, prepare for, and respond to these impacts. Our second round of Climate Science Regional Action Plans will help decision-makers effectively prepare for and respond to rapidly changing ocean conditions.

We are already seeing evidence of how climate change is affecting marine and coastal ecosystems. In 2022, NOAA Fisheries stock assessments reported significant declines in snow crab and Bristol Bay red king crab, leading to fisheries closures in Alaska for those species. These population crashes were likely a result of the 2019 marine heatwave in the North Pacific, which has been attributed to climate change. This event, and others like it, demonstrate just what is at stake. That’s why addressing climate change at the national, regional, and local levels has been—and continues to be—a top priority for NOAA Fisheries.

The newly released plans build upon ongoing efforts first launched in 2015 by NOAA Fisheries to address climate change. They highlight our current and planned efforts with partners to better track, understand, forecast, and use information on changing ocean and climate conditions and address the key objectives of the NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy.  The actions are a key part of NOAA’s effort to build a Climate Ready Nation.

Updates and New Plans for Arctic Region and Headquarters Office

The new release includes updated Climate Science Action Plans for six regions:

  • Northeast
  • Southeast
  • Western
  • Alaska - Gulf of Alaska
  • Alaska - Eastern Bering Sea
  • Pacific Islands

The updated Southeast Action Plan now covers three marine ecosystems: the Gulf of Mexico, Southeast Continental Shelf, and the U.S. Caribbean. 

The release also includes the first-ever Arctic Regional Action Plan and an Action Plan for NOAA Fisheries Headquarters Offices. The Arctic Plan identifies steps to address climate change and advance climate-informed decision making in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. It outlines measures specifically designed to address the unique challenges of the rapidly-changing Arctic region, such as decreases in the extent of summertime sea ice and its impacts on the entire ecosystem.

One of the central priorities of the plan is strengthening communication and collaboration with Alaska Native Tribes and communities. That includes producing information with Arctic communities to better track and respond to changing conditions. The NOAA Fisheries Headquarters Offices Action Plan identifies proposed activities to support regional and nation-wide efforts.

Key Actions in Climate Science Regional Action Plans

The new Regional Action Plans include key actions to help decision makers prepare for and respond to rapidly changing marine ecosystems such as:

  • Tracking change: Monitoring and assessing key indicators of ecosystem conditions to better track and provide early warnings of changing conditions
  • Forecasting conditions: Using research and modeling to understand the mechanisms of change and provide near and longer term forecasts of future conditions
  • Assessing risks: Determining the vulnerability of marine resources, fisheries, fishing communities, and other sectors that depend on marine resources
  • Evaluating best strategies: Identifying alternative management approaches and evaluating how they may perform under changing conditions to identify best approaches for stewardship of the Nation’s valuable marine resources
  • Preparing for change: Providing the information, tools and planning for effective responses to extreme events (e.g., marine heatwaves) and other changes

NOAA Fisheries is committed to working with partners to better understand, prepare for, and respond to the impacts of climate change on the nation’s valuable marine resources and the many people, communities and economies that depend on them. The new Climate Regional Action Plans identify key steps to provide decision makers with the information and tools needed for climate-informed decision making. You can learn more about each of the Action Plans below:

Last updated by Office of Science and Technology on July 13, 2023