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sea scallops resting on gravelly ocean bottom Shelled animals like sea scallops are more vulnerable to higher acid content in ocean water, an outcome of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Sea scallops are among the most valuable fishery stocks in the nation. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries
Atlantic cod swimming among rocks Fish like Atlantic cod are better able to respond to a warming ocean since they eat a variety of prey, can swim to cooler waters, and can survive in a variety of habitats. However, warming waters affect when cod release their eggs and affect the food larval cod feed on, thereby affecting population numbers. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries

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December 16, 2016
Contact: Shelley Dawicki

NOAA Fisheries Releases Northeast Regional Climate Action Plan

Preparing for changing climate and ocean conditions

Ocean waters off the Northeastern U.S. are among the fastest warming in the world's ocean. Marine life from plankton to the largest whales is affected as habitats, food webs, water temperatures, wind patterns and a variety of ecosystem components respond to a changing climate.

NOAA Fisheries today released an action plan intended to better position people in the Northeast to deal with what happens to valuable marine life as waters warm. The action plan addresses the Northeast U.S. Shelf Ecosystem, which extends from North Carolina to Maine, and from the headwaters of watersheds to the deep ocean. It was developed jointly by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center and the Greater Atlantic Region Fisheries Office with input from a number of partners and the public. Its goal is to provide timely and relevant information on what's changing, what's at risk, and how to respond. That information is key to minimizing the effects of climate change on the health, welfare, and economies of communities in the region.

"We are excited to release the Northeast Regional Action Plan, which was developed with input from many partners in the region," said Jon Hare, lead author of the plan and the director of NOAA Fisheries' Northeast Fisheries Science Center. "A critical component of this plan is partnerships and collaboration. By working together, we can increase the resilience of ecosystems in the Northeast U.S. to the changes in climate and ocean conditions."

The plan lays out a number of priorities for tracking change, forecasting conditions, assessing risks, and evaluating strategies for managing resources under changing conditions. Fifteen actions are identified for meeting the growing demand for information to better prepare for and respond to climate-related impacts on living marine resources and resource-dependent communities from North Carolina to Maine.

John Bullard, NOAA Fisheries regional administrator for the Greater Atlantic, is a long-time proponent of understanding climate change and preparing communities to be more resilient to its effects. "Conditions on the Northeast Shelf are changing rapidly so it is critical that we understand how that is affecting this ecosystem. That's important for fisheries management, for protected species conservation, and for coastal communities that are closely tied to the ocean," he said. "There are challenges, but this plan highlights the efforts already underway and those that are planned to help us better prepare for and respond to a changing environment."

A 2016 study by NOAA researchers suggested future warming of ocean waters off the Northeastern U.S. may be greater and occur at an even faster rate than previously projected. This animation from the study shows the effects on salinity and water temperature as atmospheric carbon dioxide increases by 1% per year, doubling at year 70 and increasing by 1% per year until year 80. Read more here» Credit: Vincent Saba and Remik Ziemlinksi, NOAA

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The Northeast Fisheries Science Center conducts ecosystem-based science supporting stewardship of living marine resources under changing climatic conditions. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

NOAA Fisheries Service is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation's living marine resources and their habitat through scientific research, management and enforcement. NOAA Fisheries Service provides effective stewardship of these resources for the benefit of the nation, supporting coastal communities that depend upon them, and helping to provide safe and healthy seafood to consumers and recreational opportunities for the American public. Join NOAA Fisheries on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.

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