In a collaborative effort with researchers, managers and local community members, a team of NOAA scientists are leading the use of the Integrated Ecosystem Assessment approach to balance the needs of nature and society through integrated science for current and future generations of the Gulf of Mexico. The Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) approach brings ecosystem science and management advice to natural resource managers to effectively carry out ecosystem-based management in the Gulf of Mexico. The goal of the Gulf of Mexico IEA is an ecosystem that is sustainable and capable of delivering societally desired levels of ecosystem services.
This project is part of a worldwide movement towards Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) as the approach to safeguard marine ecosystems and their services. As coastal populations continue to grow the demand for access to these benefits is increasing. In order to sustain ecosystem services, it is important to first understand and protect the environments from which they are derived.