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NOAA and Partners Take Action to Help Safeguard the Nation’s Fish, Wildlife, and Plants in a Changing Climate

 

New Progress Report Highlights Activities Underway:  Across the country, federal, state and tribal agencies and partners are taking concrete steps to address current and possible future impacts of a changing climate on the nation’s valuable natural resources and the people, communities and businesses that depend on them.  The new “Taking Action” Progress Report highlights 50 activities that illustrate the variety of actions agencies and partners are taking to help safeguard fish, wildlife and plants as called for in the 2013 National Fish Wildlife and Plant Climate Adaptation Strategy.  This is the first Progress Report on implementation of the 2013 Strategy.  Both the Strategy and the Progress Report were developed by a coalition of federal, state and tribal agencies committed to helping increase the resilience and adaptation of the nation’s natural resources and people who depend on them.  NOAA co-chairs this coalition and NOAA Fisheries co-led development of the 2013 Strategy and the Progress Report.

 

Examples of NOAA Fisheries Actions:  The Taking Action progress report provides examples of collaborative actions to address all seven of the key goals identified in the 2013 Strategy.  The report also includes activities by NOAA Fisheries and others to help prepare for and respond to climate-related impacts on species and habitats in marine and coastal ecosystems including:

  • The Yakima River Basin Plan (pg. 8) for Washington state is a collaborative effort to design and implement water management systems under changing climate conditions to meet a variety of goals including conservation of salmon and other protected species and meeting municipal, farming and other water needs. 
  • Taunton Mill River Restoration (pg. 14) efforts in Massachusetts that will include 3 dam removals, represent a first step in promoting resilience to the threat of climate change for one of the largest river herring (blueback herring and alewife) runs in the Northeast.  The dam removals will allow river herring to reach critical upstream spawning habitat, alleviating some of the existing stress on these species from habitat fragmentation and other pressures.
  • The Gulf Coast Climate Vulnerability Project (pg. 30) will produce a vulnerability assessment for the Gulf Coast region to provide managers, planners, researchers with the information needed to better understand potential impacts to coastal ecosystems and species from climate change, sea level rise, and land use change in and along the Gulf of Mexico.
  • The Florida Keys Alternative Futures Project (pg. 32) is providing likely future scenarios for the Florida Keys marine ecosystem that include climate, biological, social and economic factors to provide managers with actionable strategies for managing marine and coastal resources.
  • Maine Fishermen’s Climate Roundtable (pg. 41) has created an annual forum for fishermen to track and discuss changes in the Gulf of Maine and broader Northeast marine ecosystem, share their information with others and increase awareness of changing conditions and possible responses.

 

Additional NOAA Fisheries Efforts to Address Changing Climate and Ocean Conditions:  NOAA Fisheries also has a variety of additional efforts underway to better understand, prepare for and respond to changing climate and ocean conditions.  For example:

  • Assessing the vulnerability of fish stocks to changing climate and ocean conditions – NOAA Fisheries developed a methodology to assess the relative vulnerability of fish stocks to changing climate conditions to provide fisheries managers and scientists with information on which stocks may be most vulnerable, why they may be vulnerable and some key information gaps to help guide future science and management efforts.  
  • Implementing climate-ready coastal habitat restoration – NOAA Fisheries is incorporating information on sea level rise and other climate-related factors into the design and implementation of coastal habitat restoration projects.  
  • Understanding the impacts of ocean acidification – NOAA Fisheries and partners are conducting research to increase understanding of the possible impacts of ocean acidification on marine species and habitats. See:  
  • Assessing climate impacts on US ocean ecosystems – NOAA Fisheries is tracking and assessing climate and other impacts on the condition of US ocean ecosystems for use in marine resource management and including this information in Marine Ecosystem Status Reports. For examples see NOAA's Integrated Ecosystem Assessment Program and the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem Status Report.  
  • Understanding and Projecting Climate Impacts on Marine Resources – NOAA Fisheries and NOAA Research has a new joint program to support research to better understand and respond to impacts of climate on fish stocks and fisheries of the Northeastern US.

 

The Taking Action report highlights some of the critical steps already underway, but there is still much more to be done to safeguard fish, wildlife and plants and the people that depend on them in a changing climate.  Achieving this goal requires increased action by federal, tribal, state, and local governments and many partners to help reduce impacts and increase resilience of the nation’s valuable fish, wildlife and plants.

 

Where can I get more information?

 

More information and copies of the 2013 Strategy and new Taking Action Progress report are available at the Strategy web site www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov.

Across the country, the agencies responsible for managing fish, wildlife, and plants are working with partners and stakeholders to take concrete steps to address the impacts and future threats of climate change.