You are here

NOAA Unveils Draft 5-Year Fisheries Climate Change Strategy

NOAA thinks climate change is serious enough to propose a massive 5-year strategy aimed at better understanding the impact on fisheries and how to prepare for and adapt to those impacts. It may be a case of too little too late, but it’s better than blithely ignoring the problem. 

The National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA’s fisheries agency, released a draft of the detailed strategy this month for public comment. 

There are few things about this document that struck me upon initial review:

1. While NOAA may be late in viewing this as an “All hands on deck!” situation, the draft makes clear NOAA’s understanding that a.) Climate change is already happening; b.) It is affecting fisheries in myriad ways; and c.) We need to act now.

2. Much of the draft talks about various internal and interdisciplinary approaches to better understanding what climate change is, and what its current impacts are. 

3. The strategy hinges on “ecosystem-based management,” which would not look at just one species, but how all (or most) species in a given ecosystem interact in the context of climate changes such as higher water temps or ocean acidity.

4. Another critical focus is improving predictive capabilities to better manage fisheries. This is perhaps the most crucial objective, as I mentioned in a previous blog, because fishermen as well as managers need to plan ahead to ensure the viability of different species. 

5. This project’s success depends on more money, personnel and collaboration. The document calls for increased funding for the additional computing power needed for the modeling, hiring and training of new staff specializing in climate change dynamics and harnessing the research and discovery from external entities. 

6. While the document mentions incorporating “effort” from different stakeholders, I don’t think it goes far enough in outlining who else should be involved. 

Everyone from the single clammer working the flats in Ipswich to multi-vessel operations in New Bedford, from marine biologists at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute to scientists at National Weather Service and climatologists at NOAA need to be fully engaged in the project. That type of collaborative approach will likely yield the most comprehensive plan for addressing climate change’s effects on fisheries. It would ensure a broader, perhaps more accurate data and information input that would hopefully lead to more effective management and more broad-base adoption at the fishermen level. 

Yes, perhaps it’s a bit late. But at least it’s a start. If you’d like to comment on the NOAA strategy, you can either go to this link and click the “Comment Now!” button, or mail comments to: 

Valerie Termini 


Office of Science and Technology

1315 East-West Highway

Silver Spring, MD 20910. 

Include on the envelope the following identifier “NCSS Public Comment.”


This post was originally published on the Cape Ann Fresh Catch's One Fish blog by Colles Stowell. 

Cape Ann Fresh Catch is the largest community supported fishery in the US!