The Origin of NOAA’s Integrated Ecosystem Assessment Program: A Retrospective and Prospective

Publication date
November 21, 2020
Chris J. Harvey, David L. Fluharty, Michael J. Fogarty, Phillip S. Levin, Steven A. Murawski, Franklin B. Schwing, Rebecca L. Shuford, Christopher R. Kelble & Mark E. Monaco

In response to calls for marine ecosystem-based management (EBM), the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) developed a multidisciplinary science support framework called integrated ecosystem assessment (IEA). The IEA framework and a national NOAA program for implementing that framework were the culmination of many efforts in the 2000s. At a recent workshop, five leaders from the early days of NOAA IEA development participated in a panel to discuss the history of the framework and program, and to provide recommendations for future work. Panelists intended IEA to be a call to action for scientists and agencies to support EBM, and they designed the framework to be adaptable, scalable, and non-prescriptive so that it could be applied to a range of issues. Panelists emphasized the complementary nature of the processes, tools, and products that make up IEA efforts, and also stressed the need to adapt the IEA approach to shifting management and governance structures. Finally, panelists offered a range of recommendations for future development of the IEA approach, including: (1) broadening the stakeholder base; (2) developing objectives and reference points in partnership with end-users; (3) increasing diversity of IEA practitioners to better reflect the communities that IEA serves; (4) increasing development of readily updatable, real-time products; (5) carefully assessing and prioritizing the demands placed on IEA practitioners; (6) increasing collaboration across disciplines and resource sectors; (7) seeking opportunities to engage with emerging governance structures; and (8) strengthening support for IEA by effectively communicating its stories.

Coastal Management