NOAA fisheries research geared towards climate-ready living marine resource management in the northeast United States

Publication date
December 15, 2023
Vincent Saba, Diane Borggaard, Joseph C. Caracappa, R. Christopher Chambers, Patricia M. Clay, Lisa L. Colburn, Jonathan Deroba, Geret DePiper, Hubert du Pontavice, Paula Fratantoni, Marianne Ferguson, Sarah Gaichas, Sean Hayes, Kimberly Hyde, Michael Johnson, John Kocik, Ellen Keane, Dan Kircheis, Scott Large, Andrew Lipsky, Sean Lucey, Anna Mercer, Shannon Meseck, Timothy J. Miller, Ryan Morse, Christopher Orphanides, Julie Reichert-Nguyen, David Richardson, Jeff Smith, Ronald Vogel, Bruce Vogt, Gary Wikfors

Climate change can alter marine ecosystems through changes in ocean temperature, acidification, circulation, and productivity. Over the last decade, the United States northeast continental shelf (U.S. NES) has warmed faster than any other marine ecosystem in the country and is among the fastest warming regions of the global ocean. Many living marine resources in the U.S. NES ranging from recreational and commercial fish stocks to protected species have shifted their distribution in response to ocean warming. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) is responsible for the assessment, protection, and sustainable use of the nation’s living marine resources. In the U.S. NES, NOAA Fisheries has made substantial progress on climate research related to fish, fisheries, and protected species. However, more research is needed to help inform tactical management decisions with the goal of climate-ready living marine resource management. This is a major challenge because the observed physical and biological changes are unprecedented, and the majority of marine species assessments and management decisions do not utilize environmental data. Here we review the research accomplishments and key needs for NOAA Fisheries in the U.S. NES in the context of climate change and living marine resource management. Key research needs and products are: 1) Infrastructure with continued and enhanced ocean surveys that includes cooperative research with the fishing industry and other NOAA line offices and partners; 2) Tracking and projecting change, and understanding mechanisms including state of the ecosystem reporting, improved regional ocean and ecosystem hindcasts, forecasts, and projections, and continued process-based laboratory and field studies, 3) climate-informed management, including stock assessments that account for climate where possible, translation of changing species distributions into spatial management, climate vulnerability assessment and scenario planning, ecosystem-based management, management strategy evaluations, and increased multidisciplinary science that includes economic and social indicators.

PLoS Climate