Healthy Ecosystems & Living Resources

Resilient coastal communities and our own human well-being depend on healthy ecosystems and living resources. Decades of overfishing, pollution, habitat destruction and global-scale environmental changes have left coastal and ocean ecosystems in unprecedented decline with deteriorating diversity and productivity and a lessening of the societal benefits they provide. A rapidly changing earth environment is further compromising ecosystem health through climate change, sea level rise, unpredictable and severe weather events, shifts in the geographic location of renewable living resources and increasing human health problems. Continuing changes to the ocean and coastal environments, including ocean acidification and rising ocean temperatures, will have long-lasting impacts on marine plant and animal life, place food security at risk and complicate issues related to water quality.

Historically, marine management has failed to consider multiple and cumulative uses that
can affect these ecosystems and instead typically focus on only a single issue at a time. But
adequately observing a coastal or ocean ecosystem to support holistic management takes
more than a simple inventory of biodiversity and abundance of flora and fauna; it must also
measure synthetic variables that define the full array of interactions within an ecosystem.

Goal 1

Collect ocean and coastal observations that allow for assessment of ecosystem
health and resilience.

Goal 2

Provide a portal to house the breadth of data needed to support ecosystem-based
management decisions.