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Northeast Regional Action Plan

NOAA Fisheries and partners have developed Regional Action Plans to guide implementation of the NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy in each region.

A Changing Climate

Changing climate and oceans are affecting the nation’s valuable marine life and the many people, businesses and communities that depend on them. Warming oceans, loss of sea ice, rising seas, extreme events, and acidification are impacting the distribution and abundance of species and the structure of marine and coastal ecosystems in many regions. These impacts are expected to increase and there is much at risk. 

Expected Changes in the Northeast

Climate change is directly impacting the ocean and watersheds throughout the Northeast United States. Over the last two decades, ocean temperature in much of the region has warmed faster than any other marine region in the nation. This warming impacts species distributions, abundance, growth rates and many other aspects of fish, invertebrate, and marine mammal populations.


NOAA Fisheries has worked with many partners to make progress in addressing the priority actions identified in the 2016 Northeast Regional Action Plan. A summary of accomplishments can be found in the National Climate Science Strategy 5-year Progress Report. However, there are still many actions needed to better inform fisheries management, protected species conservation, and community adaptation with relevant climate-based information.

Priority Actions 

This Northeast Regional Action Plan identifies priority actions to implement the NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy and advance climate-informed decision making, resilience, and adaptation in the region. Key actions fall into one of three categories: 

  • Building and maintaining infrastructure and tracking change
  • Understanding mechanisms and projecting future conditions
  • Informing management

Each of these categories consist of specific priority actions, such as continuing to build industry-based fisheries and ocean observing capabilities.

Climate Science Strategy Objectives pyramid: Informing management, understanding mechanisms and projecting future conditions and infrastructure and tracking change

Build and Maintain Infrastructure and Track Change ( Objectives 6 and 7)


  • Maintain and expand ecosystem survey and data collection efforts in the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf ecosystem including the Bottom Trawl Survey, Ecosystem Monitoring Program, Sea Scallop Survey, Northern Shrimp Survey, Clam Survey, Gulf of Maine Bottom Longline Survey, and Protected Species Surveys. This also includes the Gulf of Maine longline survey, data poor species surveys, right whale prey sampling, ocean acidification monitoring, and the cooperative shark tagging program.
  • Coordinate across NOAA and with partners to link marine resource data, science, and management to climate science and research activities
  • Continue to build industry-based fisheries and ocean observing capabilities
  • Continue production of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s State of the Ecosystem reports and other related products that include climate relevant information that is useful to management such as historical, forecasted, and projected biophysical conditions, marine heatwaves, species distribution and abundance shifts, biogeochemical indices, coastal community vulnerability to sea level rise and storm surge, and fishing community vulnerability due to dependence on climate-vulnerable species

Understand Mechanisms and Project Future Conditions ( Objectives 4 and 5)


  • Conduct laboratory and field research on the mechanistic effects of multiple climate factors (e.g., temperature, ocean acidification, dissolved oxygen) on living marine resources with the goal of informing process-based models for single species, multi-species, and the ecosystem
  • Work with NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, National Weather Service, National Ocean Service, and academic partners to develop and improve regional hindcasts, forecasts, and projections of ocean and estuarine/river physics and biogeochemistry to develop and improve climate-ready management of living marine resources

Inform Management ( Objectives 1–3)


  • Improve spatial management of living marine resources through an increased utility of spatial and temporal distributions, abundance, productivity, migration, and phenology in management decisions
  • Develop and use vulnerability analyses, scenario planning, and management strategy evaluations to examine the effect of different management strategies under various climate change scenarios
  • Increase social, economic, and ecosystem scientist involvement in climate change research through multidisciplinary work, including the Northeast Integrated Ecosystem Assessment, which examines relationships between various ecosystem components with the goal of enhancing ecosystem-based management with climate information
  • Develop stock assessment models that include environmental terms (e.g., temperature, ocean acidification) with a priority for stocks that have upcoming research track assessments


Last updated by Office of Science and Technology on December 11, 2023