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US Agency Launches Tool for Fish Vulnerability to Climate Change

By Obiabin Onukwugha

A United States Fisheries Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), says it has launched a new interactive tool that allows users to access the agency’s data and see how fish and their habitats are vulnerable to climate change.

NOAA, is a Washington-based scientific and regulatory agency within the United States Department of Commerce, charged with forecasting weather, monitoring oceanic and atmospheric conditions, charting the seas, conducting deep sea exploration, and managing fishing and protection of marine mammals and endangered species in the U.S.

The tool, according to the agency, currently draws on data from several completed assessments, and will be updated regularly as other assessments are completed.

The agency in a report in its website said, it completed its first assessment using the current methodology in 2016. It said completed Assessments included; 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.

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

NOAA further reported that 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.

“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.

“We are looking forward, and we see that changes in these species may be the rule rather than the exception.

“The goal is to anticipate the changes and make more climate-informed management decisions, and this assessment should help,” lead author Michelle McClure said about the results.

According to the report, there are currently assessments underway for sea turtles, Gulf of Mexico fish stocks, South Atlantic fish stocks, and highly migratory species in the Atlantic.

NOAA Fisheries develops assessments based on the subject’s level of exposure to environmental changes and its sensitivity to those changes.

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