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November 2014 Issue

NOAA, NASA, BOEM Fund Marine Biodiversity Monitoring
NOAA and NASA are funding three demonstration projects that will lay the foundation for the first national network to monitor marine biodiversity at scales ranging from microbes to whales. BOEM also plans to contribute.

The projects, funded at approximately $17 million during the next five years, will demonstrate how a national operational marine biodiversity observation network could be developed.

It would serve as a marine resource management tool to conserve biodiversity and enhance U.S. biosecurity against threats such as invasive species and infectious agents.

The three demonstration marine biological observation networks will be established in four locations: the Florida Keys, Monterey Bay and the Santa Barbara Channel in California, and on the continental shelf in the Chukchi Sea in Alaska.

Marine biodiversity is a key indicator of ocean health and critical to sustaining natural resources such as fisheries. The three projects, selected from 19 proposals, will be established in different marine environments in U.S. waters to integrate existing observations, ranging from satellite observations to DNA sampling, and fill data gaps with new observations.

The networks will integrate data on large-scale sea surface conditions observed by NASA, NOAA and U.S. Geological Survey satellites with observations made in the ocean and the laboratory. They will build partnerships with existing long-term biodiversity monitoring efforts, explore innovative uses of new in-situ observations and genomic techniques, and improve access to integrated biodiversity data.


NOAA Awards $1.275 Million to Support Marine Debris Cleanup
The NOAA Marine Debris Program awarded $1.275 million through NOAA’s Restoration Center to groups across the country to support locally-driven, community-based marine debris prevention and removal projects. Eleven groups received funding to remove derelict vessels, trash, debris from natural disasters, derelict fishing gear, and other harmful marine debris from shorelines and coastal waters. The groups are: the Alaska Marine Stewardship Foundation, Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association, Lake Worth Lagoon Environmental Defense Fund Inc., Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, American Littoral Society, Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, Alliance for the Great Lakes, South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, the Coral Bay Community Council Inc., the Student Conservation Association Inc. and the Nature Conservancy.

Through this grant program, NOAA has funded 87 marine debris removal projects and removed more than 4,800 metric tons of marine debris from our oceans since 2006.


Some Coral Will be Able to Weather Climate Change
A University of California, Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) working group reports in PLOS ONE that there will be winners and losers among coral species facing increasing natural and human-caused stressors. The experts demonstrate that a subset of the present coral fauna will likely populate the world’s oceans as water temperatures continue to rise.

The working group “Tropical Coral Reefs of the Future: Modeling Ecological Outcomes from the Analyses of Current and Historical Trends” simulated future outcomes by analyzing contemporary and fossil coral reef ecosystem data sets from two Caribbean locations in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Belize, and from five Indo-Pacific locations in Moorea, Taiwan, Hawaii, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and Kenya. The team built a trait-based dynamic model to explore ecological performance in a warmer future.

The study uses current case studies to describe the events taking place on extant reefs; it also uses fossil records to explain the temporal novelty of the changes affecting the community ecology on these reefs. The investigators’ mathematical model provides insight into the future ecological fate of coral reefs under increased thermal stress.

Sensitivity analyses demonstrate that thermal tolerance, growth rate and longevity are predictors of coral persistence when under thermal stress. The study shows that the winning subset coral species is fast-growing, phenotypically smaller and wider, more stress-resistant, and readily produces offspring.


More Science to Back NAFO Management Decisions
The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) announced measures to strengthen the scientific basis for management decisions, increase compliance and improve the quality of catch data.

A review of closed areas for protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems (VME) was carried out this year and the current closures were extended until 2020.

Two new closed areas were also adopted in the NAFO Area.

Witch flounder on the southern Grand Bank has now recovered sufficiently to be reopened with a total allowable catch (TAC) of 1,000 tons. This stock had been under a 20-year moratorium. Moreover, the TAC for redfish on the northern Grand Bank increased by almost 50 percent to 10,400 tons.

Fishery managers and scientists will continue to work together on important issues. The mandates of the Joint Working Groups for Risk Based Management Strategies (RBMS), Ecosystem Approach Framework to Fisheries Management (EAFFM) and Catch Reporting (CR) will build on their previous year’s work. The working group on By-catches, Discards and Selectivity will also continue.

Maintaining stability in catch opportunities and sustainability of stocks remains a priority for NAFO. A harvest control rule for redfish on the northern Grand Bank was adopted. Development of a management plan for cod on the Flemish Cap is underway.

Based on scientific advice, most existing moratoria were extended to allow the rebuilding of stocks, while TACs and quotas for the rest were set. The Northern shrimp stock continues to decline and, as a precaution, it has been placed under moratorium. Progress continues on recommendations from NAFO’s 2011 Performance Review. Most of the actions developed in response to the recommendations have been completed or are ongoing.


2014:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV
2013:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC


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