Integrated Ecosystem Assessment Program


Through an integrated science approach, the NOAA Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) program balances the needs of nature and society for current and future generations, supporting diverse marine resource management objectives in an ecosystem context.


The mission of the NOAA IEA Program is to provide a sound interdisciplinary analytical and science-based framework to support effective Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) of our Nation’s marine, coastal, estuarine, and Great Lakes resources. To ensure the sustainable delivery of a broad spectrum of benefits and services, IEAs assess the status of ecosystems in relation to defined societal goals and objectives; examine the cumulative impacts of natural and anthropogenic stressors; and analyze the cumulative risk of these stressors to US marine and coastal ecosystems. IEAs provide vital information to resource managers by evaluating the effect of possible management actions upon all focal ecosystem components (including human) in relation to their current state and societal goals; assessing tradeoffs among potentially competing objectives; and ultimately producing scientific analyses and products to help inform management decisions within an ecosystem context. By providing the scientific support for EBM, IEAs aim to support healthy and resilient communities, economies, ecosystems, and human well-being for current and future generations.

The IEA Program Oversees Execution of IEA Approach

The NOAA Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) Program is a NOAA-wide initiative that oversees the direction and execution of Integrated Ecosystem Assessments within the United States ocean and coastal ecosystems. The program has a commitment to ensure the best available science is used to inform management decisions. The program does this by implementing an iterative multi-step approach that provides a framework to support ecosystem-based management - leveraging and integrating existing science and research activities and programs in NOAA and also building additional capacity within the IEA program to assess a marine ecosystem as a whole to provide natural resource managers with a broader understanding of the ecosystem and make fully informed decisions. The program strives to be inclusive, building a constantly growing interdisciplinary network of science and management partners both internal and external to NOAA.

    The IEA steering committee consists of representatives from each of the regions, most of NOAA’s line offices, and for several specific topics such as climate change and human dimensions. The steering committee, with the program office, leads and advances development and implementation of the program including establishing goals, priorities, and strategies; providing guidance on funding, communication efforts, and agency level initiatives; oversees topical program working groups; and ensures coordination and communication among the regions and across different agency line offices and program partners. The steering committee develops a National 3-year plan that informs regions’ program implementation.

    The program currently has five active regional programs:

    The regional programs develop 3-year regional work plans and implement Integrated Ecosystem Assessments in their regional marine ecosystem. They do this by conducting leading-edge ecosystem research and fostering collaborations with internal and external research partners to develop and advance the needed science capacity to support the decision-support needs of regional resource management partners in an ecosystem context.

    IEA partners sit within and external to NOAA, and have included:

    • Fisheries Management Councils
    • National Marine Sanctuaries
    • Regional Planning Bodies
    • Other federal agencies
    • State agencies
    • Tribal governments
    • Non-governmental organizations