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Healthy Oceans


Ocean ecosystems provide many benefits to humans, including food, recreational opportunities, and support for economies. However, the resources that our marine, coastal, and Great Lakes environments present to us are already stressed by human uses. Habitat changes have depleted fish and shellfish stocks, increased the number of species that are at-risk, and reduced biodiversity. Because humans are an integral part of the ecosystem, declines in ecosystem functioning and quality directly impact human health and well-being. As long-term environmental, climate, and population trends continue, global demands for seafood and energy, recreational use of aquatic environments, and other pressures on habitats and over-exploited species will increase as will concerns about the sustainability of ecosystems and safety of edible fish. Depleted fish stocks and declines in iconic species (such as killer whales, salmon, and sea turtles) result in lost opportunities for employment, economic growth, and recreation along the coasts. In addition, climate change impacts to the ocean, including sea level rise, acidification, and warming, will alter habitats and the relative abundance and distribution of species. Climate change poses serious risks to coastal and marine ecosystems productivity, which, in turn, impacts recreational, economic, and conservation activities. NOAA Objectives: 1. Improved understanding of ecosystems to inform resource management decisions 2. Recovered and healthy marine and coastal species 3. Healthy habitats that sustain resilient and thriving marine resources and communities 4. Sustainable fisheries and safe seafood for healthy populations and vibrant communities Examples of appropriate topic areas for research applications from small businesses include, but are not limited to the following: • Technologies that facilitate increased use of ecosystem information (such as Integrated Ecosystem Assessments) in natural resource decisions in marine, estuarine, Great Lake and riverine systems • Tools that support increased development and use of climate considerations in fishery and protected resource decisions and in coastal and marine spatial planning processes • Technologies that support next-generation fish and protected resource stock assessments and incorporate habitat, ecosystem, and climate information • Technologies that support the collection of high-quality data to inform management plans and decisions for living marine resource managers • Tools that support improved habitat assessments to increase understanding of the role of habitat in providing marine and coastal ecosystem services • Technologies that support increased use of social and economic indicators in the conservation and management decision making processes • Tools and technologies that support stabilization and/or increased abundance of species that are depleted, threatened, or endangered • Technologies that lead to decreased bycatch of target, non-target, and protected species or otherwise increase numbers of protected species with improving status • Tools that support increased protection and restoration of marine and coastal habitats to enhance vital ecosystem services • Tools that support increased use of partnerships, scientifically sound conservation measures, coastal and marine spatial planning, and regional ecosystem conservation approaches to protect and restore priority habitats • Technologies that facilitate addressing climate change impacts in conservation actions to promote long- term habitat resilience and adaptation. • Technologies that increase abundance of overfished stocks or reduce the number of stocks subject or overfishing • Technologies and services that result in expanded recreational and commercial fishing opportunities • Tools and technologies that facilitate sustainable aquaculture practices and facilities • Technologies that support an increased proportion of inspected seafood
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