Please select your home edition
Edition
Coast Guard Foundation LEADERBOARD 2

Recent climate-driven crises heighten focus on adaptations to changing ocean conditions

by NOAA Fisheries 12 Nov 15:36 UTC
King salmon spawning in a Pacific Northwest river. © randimal

Not too long ago, the impacts of climate change felt somewhat far off for many Americans. Despite NOAA scientists' reports, in many cases, people viewed these warnings as on the horizon rather than at our doorstep.

No one has to peer into the distance anymore to see dramatic climate-driven changes. They're already impacting the nation's valuable marine life and ecosystems and the many communities and economies that depend on them.

Just a few examples of these recent impacts on our nation's oceans resources:

  • Rising ocean temperatures have led to global coral bleaching events
  • Warming conditions in the Arctic have led to declining health conditions of seals who depend on sea ice
  • A 2013-2016 marine heatwave in the Eastern Pacific Ocean that rattled the entire ocean ecosystem

While our researchers travel to the far reaches of the Arctic and the ocean depths to gather data and understand it, U.S. commercial and recreational fishermen see climate change impacts much closer to home—in their daily catches. Warming waters have already led to rapid shifts in fish species distribution that have impacted whole fishing communities. I saw the negative impacts of these shifts during my time in Rhode Island. In just one generation, species like winter flounder and American lobster, which were some of the most lucrative landings in the state's commercial fisheries, saw severe drops in landings and profitability.

And NOAA Fisheries researchers expect these shifts to continue. In a recent climate vulnerability assessment, they found that about half of the 82 Northeast Shelf species examined—including key commercial and recreational species like sea scallops, oysters, lobsters, blue crab, and winter flounder—have a high vulnerability to climate change.

Climate change impacts every corner of our science-based marine conservation and management mission—from managing sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, to conserving protected resources and vital habitats. It is urgent and top of mind at NOAA Fisheries.

This week, the devastation of climate impacts and the promise of potential mitigation measures will be in a global spotlight at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Scotland. I am very proud that NOAA Administrator Dr. Rick Spinrad is a key member of the U.S. delegation to COP26, along with NOAA's Senior Climate Advisor Ko Barrett. As Rick reminded us recently, "NOAA plays a critical role in delivering world-class science, data, services and innovative solutions to help the world adapt to our changing planet." And, in the end, that is what we're all focused on... finding solutions.

We know that to address this climate crisis we must reduce emissions and prepare for unavoidable impacts. NOAA Fisheries has a very important role to play in helping better plan and adapt. In fact, climate change has been extremely important in NOAA Fisheries' work since its founding 150 years ago. Our scientists and researchers continue to study and strengthen our understanding of changing ocean conditions and the effects on our ocean resources.

These strong scientific data and research methodologies underlie all of NOAA Fisheries' climate products and services, such as Regional Ecosystem Status reports and NOAA's Climate and Fisheries Initiative.

With these resources, we're continuing to provide resource managers and stakeholders the best-in-class climate, ocean, and ecosystem information. They use it to assess risks, identify adaptation strategies, and safeguard the nation's marine resources and the communities that depend on them.

Along with our partners across NOAA—including the Weather Service, the Office of Research, the Ocean Service, NOAA Satellites, and the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations—I am optimistic that we're doing everything we can at NOAA Fisheries to contribute to the urgent national and international goal of addressing the climate crisis.

Janet Coit
Assistant Administrator, NOAA Fisheries

Related Articles

Preserving genetic diversity
Giving wild populations their best chance at long-term survival The paper, by a NOAA Fisheries Northwest Fisheries Science Center researcher, examined decades of theoretical and empirical evidence. It was published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science. Posted on 22 Nov
Survivor salmon provide a lifeline for chinook
NOAA Fisheries recovery goals include reintroduction to save the late-migrating fish In drought years and when marine heat waves warm the Pacific Ocean, late-migrating juvenile spring-run Chinook salmon of California's Central Valley are the ultimate survivors. Posted on 5 Nov
Fishing for sport and seafood
All seafood is local when you catch it yourself Our celebration of National Seafood Month would not be complete without highlighting a special source of seafood: the fish we catch ourselves! Posted on 1 Nov
Invasive reef fish may boost Hawaii food security
NOAA-supported project seeks to build a market for the non-native fish taape It's relatively small and found in schools. It's bright yellow like the sun and covered with brilliant sky-blue stripes. It's not originally from Hawaii but can now be found throughout the main Hawaiian Islands. Posted on 1 Nov
7 ways to celebrate national seafood month
When it comes to sustainable seafood, we have a lot to celebrate in the United States Temperatures are cooling, leaves are changing colors, and the smell of pumpkin spice fills the air—all signs of fall in the United States! This time of year is meaningful for many reasons. Posted on 17 Oct
Shrimp population collapse linked to warming ocean
As ecosystems reorganize due to climate change, species interactions will also change An extreme heatwave in the Gulf of Maine in 2012 resulted in the warmest ocean temperatures in the region in decades. By 2013, the Atlantic northern shrimp population in the gulf had experienced a stock "collapse." Posted on 10 Oct
Growing potential for toxic algal blooms
A warming Arctic presents potential new threats to humans & marine wildlife in fast-changing region Changes in the northern Alaskan Arctic ocean environment have reached a point at which a previously rare phenomenon—widespread blooms of toxic algae—could become more commonplace. Posted on 8 Oct
Recreational fishing: A favorite American pastime
Learn how you can participate in recreational fishing in your state or region Recreational fishing is a beloved American pastime, with millions of anglers taking to the water every year. It's a simple activity that is great on your own or with family and friends alongside. Posted on 8 Oct
Climate change affecting Chesapeake Bay Fisheries
As climate change affects habitats, fisheries species face change, too The Chesapeake Bay is home to more than 3,600 species of plants and animals. That includes 348 species of finfish, 173 species of shellfish, and more than 16 species of underwater grasses. Posted on 26 Sep
Ask MRIP: Answering about recreational catch
MRIP responds to questions about producing estimates, measuring statistical precision, and more Saltwater anglers, for-hire captains, and other members of the recreational fishing community often ask how we collect recreational fishing data, and how we use that data to estimate total recreational catch. Posted on 24 Sep
Coast Guard Foundation FOOTER 238 South - Marlin 795 - FOOTER - Sept2021Marina Exchange FOOTER 1