NOAA’s regional action plans aim to protect marine resources and communities

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its Western Regional Action Plan (WRAP) for California’s marine ecosystem in mid-December. WRAP is one of several regional plans issued by NOAA in the final days of 2016. Each plan, according to a NOAA statement, outlines “specific actions to better track changing conditions, provide better forecasts, and identify the best strategies to reduce impacts and sustain our marine resources for current and future generations.”

“Implementing these actions will give decision-makers the information they need now to sustain our vital marine resources and the many people that depend on them every day,” NOAA staff stated in a Dec. 16 release.

The regional action plan stated the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem faces dynamic challenges due to climate change.

“These challenges will affect every species that depends on this system, including hundreds of species protected by law. They will also affect the millions of people who rely on this sensitive region for food, recreation, and commerce,” NOAA staff stated in the WRAP document. “To manage the natural resources in this system, decision-makers need information about which species will be affected and how, and which approaches will best reduce the impacts on human and natural communities while maintaining a healthy ecosystem. This plan identifies key efforts we can make to provide that information.”

WRAP outlined seven climate science strategy objectives to address potential changes and risks to California’s marine communities. NOAA staff hopes its outlined strategies would provide policymakers and stakeholders with sufficient information to benefit fishery management and species conservation.

The seven objectives are: establish climate-informed reference points; develop robust management strategies; implement adaptive management practices; project future conditions; understand the mechanisms of change; track change and provide early warnings; and improve science infrastructure to deliver actionable information.

A summary of NOAA’s WRAP can be reviewed online at bit.ly/2hEFshc.

(Photo by Adam Obaza, WCR Protected Resources Division)

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