NOAA Fisheries releases interactive climate vulnerability tool

Published on
September 22, 2023
NOAA Fisheries releases interactive climate vulnerability tool

A new interactive tool from NOAA Fisheries allows users to access the agency’s data and see how vulnerable fish and their habitats are to climate change.

With data on roughly 400 marine species and habitats, the Climate Vulnerability Assessment Tool can create reports by drawing on the agency’s assessments of fish stocks, protected species, habitats, and fishing communities. NOAA Fisheries develops assessments based on the subject’s level of exposure to environmental changes and its sensitivity to those changes.

Climate vulnerability assessments provide decision makers with information on which species, habitats, and communities may be most susceptible to climate change,” NOAA Fisheries said. “They also show where action may be needed to help reduce impacts and increase resilience to changing ocean conditions.”

The tool currently draws on data from several completed assessments, and it will be updated regularly as other assessments are completed. The agency completed its first assessment using the current methodology in 2016, and has completed the following assessments to date:

  • Northeast Fish Stock Climate Vulnerability Assessment
  • Pacific Salmon Vulnerability Assessment
  • Bering Sea Fish Stock Climate Vulnerability Assessment
  • West Coast Fish Stock Climate Vulnerability Assessment
  • Pacific Islands Marine Life Climate Vulnerability Assessment

The West Coast Fish Stock assessment, which is the most recently completed assessment, found that all but the most resilient species are vulnerable to climate change.

“We are looking forward, and we see that changes in these species may be the rule rather than the exception,” lead author Michelle McClure said about the results. “The goal is to anticipate the changes and make more climate-informed management decisions, and this assessment should help.”

There are currently assessments underway for sea turtles, Gulf of Mexico fish stocks, South Atlantic fish stocks, and highly migratory species in the Atlantic, according to NOAA Fisheries.

In the past, NOAA Fisheries has released individual reports on its website using the Climate Vulnerability Assessment Tool, but it had not made it available for use by the general public.

Photo courtesy of NOAA Fisheries

Associate Editor

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