Saturday, March 25, 2017

Objective 1

Increase our knowledge of the physical and chemical changes in the oceans resulting from atmospheric, ocean, and, and land-based forcing.

Providing regional forecasts and projections requires understanding how physical and chemical variables across the ocean and watershed conditions change, assessing these conditions, and developing the capability for prediction. These forecasts and projections are critical toward incorporating environmental information into marine resource management. Species inhabit certain regions because they are adapted to the environmental conditions typically present there.

R&D Targets:

  • Increase collection and use of high-quality environmental data in describing and understanding the dominant forcings of the oceans and their physical and chemical impacts
  • Increase collection and use of high-resolution, regionally constrained environmental data to support regional forecasts and projections

Objective 2

Increase our knowledge and understanding of the mechanisms and impacts of environmental changes on marine species and ecosystems.

The National Ocean Policy establishes ecosystem-based management (EBM) as a foundational principle for ocean resource management in the United States. Understanding how environmental changes affect marine ecosystems provides the scientific underpinning of EBM and is crucial for sustaining marine fisheries, habitat, and biodiversity within healthy and productive ecosystems. Human activities and climate change can impact population connectivity and this needs to be taken into account when implementing management measures. The success of management measures (e.g., HAPCs, MPAs, and MPA networks) to protect, conserve, and restore marine habitats or populations hinges on the establishment of ecologically relevant boundaries that take into account propagule (spores, eggs, and larvae) connectivity, as well as the movements of juveniles and adults. A combination of retrospective and process studies, monitoring and modeling are required to advance our understanding of the impacts of environmental change. NOAA must understand the mechanisms by which environmental change impacts marine species and ecosystems to confidently predict or project the impacts. Without this mechanistic understanding, there is no basis for predictions or projections when conditions change, resulting in uncertain assessments and forecasts. Observations coupled with information from retrospective and process studies generate the necessary foundation for understanding environmental-ecosystem relationships. Combining this information with ecosystem models that include environmental forcing also contributes to understanding the mechanistic linkages between environmental forcing and species’ responses.

R&D Targets:

  • Decrease uncertainty in the forecasts generated from ecosystem models

  • Develop analytical models and tools to understand and quantify impacts of environmental change in three large marine ecosystems

Objective 3

Incorporate environmental change information into operational marine resource assessments and decision-making.

A stronger scientific basis for improved marine resource management requires increased incorporation of environmental change information into operational assessments and decision-making. To transition to EBM, the increased knowledge obtained through the first two objectives must be incorporated into operational assessments and the decision making process. The increased knowledge will advance the development and testing of indicators and models to predict with greater certainty the probable consequences of environmental changes on regional ecosystems. Some of these indicators or derived parameters may be incorporated directly into next generation stock assessments. Moreover, the development of ecosystem assessments and management strategy evaluations that incorporate environmental and climate change information and evaluate different ecosystem management strategies will provide resource managers with information to make more cost-effective and informed decisions in an ecosystem context.

R&D Targets:

  • Develop regional-scale ecosystem models driven by regional-scale climate models

  • Develop next-generation stock assessments that incorporate the effects of environmental change on stock dynamics

  • Develop protected species and habitat valuation for regions identified in the Habitat Blueprint

  • Assess social and economic benefits of fish stocks and the potential trade-offs associated with managing competing ecosystem services or allocating an ecosystem service among competing user groups