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Development of an online climate and fisheries data dashboard for stakeholders in the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem

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Abstract Fisheries managers make decisions that shape the future of ecosystems and the communities that depend on them. These decisions are often made without reference to environmental conditions, or are made assuming that past conditions (physical conditions, productivity, and species distributions) will persist. The rapid changes experienced in the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem (NES LME), as well as the high degree of natural variability in this system, are prompting new discussions about how to incorporate environmental information into fisheries policy and management and into the industry. Through this work, the project team will facilitate access to fisheries and climate data for fisheries stakeholders in the Northeast through the creation of a dynamic data dashboard. The primary goal is to make complex climate-relevant data accessible and easy to understand. We will synthesize information on past, present, and future environmental conditions in the NES LME presented in the context of fisheries dependent data. We will work with marine fisheries stakeholders, including fisheries management council members, industry leaders and non-profits, to develop visualizations from complex data that allow them to quickly assess conditions in the ocean and evaluate them in the context of past and projected change. We will start with sea surface temperature, an easily accessible and interpretable dataset that includes long-term records, high-resolution spatial maps, and near and long-term forecasts from a variety of distributed sources. We will aggregate historic fisheries landings data from critical species and display in a similar fashion to the environmental data for ready comparison of past, present, future states. This approach will enable the team to incorporate into future iterations of the dashboard additional physical and biological data streams deemed important by stakeholders. Presenting long time series of fisheries and socioeconomic data against environmental data paints a picture of trends over time and provides insight as to how the changing climate conditions might be a driver shifting ranges, spawning times, arrival and other phenological events that impact the industry and management objectives. We will also use the dashboard to host new forecast products for lobsters and small pelagic fish distributions that are currently in development and as a gateway to other climate and ecosystem data sources in the region. The fisheries dashboard we propose will contribute to NOAA’s Healthy Oceans goal by helping bring climate-related data into fisheries management. This project is strongly aligned with priorities outlined in the request for proposals. In particular, by providing access to the state-of-the-art climate information through decision support tools, we will contribute to the synthesis, delivery and application of existing climate and ecosystem observations. By making climate and fisheries data easy to access and interpret, our project will better serve the information needs of decision makers from fisheries resource management and industry. The dashboard is envisioned as an adaptation and/or resilience tool, helping industry and management make better decisions from data. It will also support the ongoing shift of the region’s fisheries towards ecosystem-based management.

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