NOAA Releases Draft Climate Science Action Plan for Pacific Islands Region

May 6, 2016 (updated 5/09/2016)

Warming oceans, rising seas, and ocean acidification represent serious threats to the marine ecosystems and human communities of the Pacific Islands. Information on the climate impacts on ecosystems is needed for prudent resource management.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is proud to present the Pacific Islands Region Climate Science Strategy Regional Action Plan. "This action plan builds on efforts currently underway by NOAA Fisheries to advance our understanding of climate impacts on ecosystem in the Pacific Islands and incorporate that information into management processes," said Michael Seki, Director of NOAA's Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center.

The plan identifies the region's highest priorities for climate information are for:

  1. key managed species, specifically, deepwater bottomfishes, striped marlin, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna, swordfish, and coral reef fishes.
  2. protected species including the Hawaiian monk seal, sea turtles, and cetaceans.
  3. low-lying coastal habitats that provide infrastructure for human communities that use the ocean as well as critical pupping and nesting habitat for protected species.

"Rising ocean temperatures and acidification are projected to reduce growth and survival of most corals as well as reduce the productivity and alter the food web in the open ocean", said Jeffrey Polovina, leader for the Ecosystems and Oceanography Program at the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries.

Actions proposed in the plan include:

  1. analyze ongoing monitoring programs and long time series for fisheries and protected species to detect climate impacts.
  2. use ecosystem and climate models to project ecosystem impacts, including those to human communities.
  3. field studies and laboratory trials to advance our understanding of the mechanisms underlying climate impacts on marine ecosystems.

The Pacific Islands Region Climate Science Strategy Regional Action Plan is being released for public comment. It is available here:

This plan follows the seven objectives of the overarching NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy.

NOAA Fisheries is committed to adopting a proactive approach to increase the production, delivery, and use of climate-related information. The plan will guide efforts to reduce impacts and increase resilience of fish stocks, fishing-dependent communities, and protected species.

Comments should be submitted to pirohonolulu@noaa.gov by June 6, 2016.