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The National Ocean Biodiversity Strategy

June 28, 2024

President Biden has been clear that the ocean is central to life on Earth. As he has proclaimed, “the ocean powers millions of jobs; feeds and sustains us; and is a rejuvenating source of inspiration, exploration, and recreation.” The Biden-Harris Administration has worked hard to fulfill the President’s goal to protect and conserve at least 30% of U.S. waters by 2030. The ocean faces increased threats from warming, overfishing, increased acidity, and loss of biodiversity. It is now more important than ever to sustain the many benefits that the ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes provide, including food, a favorable climate, recreation, physical and mental health, and for many, a sense of cultural identity. Ocean life represents an irreplaceable heritage, the foundation of a habitable planet, and a vast trove of resources. Keeping our ocean healthy requires reliable information on the changing status of these living organisms, the drivers of biodiversity change, and options for effectively addressing those drivers. Over 2 million species are estimated to live in the ocean, yet only about 240,000 species have been described by scientists. Most of the ocean’s benefits result from those diverse species interacting with one another and the environment they create. To protect and conserve the ocean, we as a nation need to make better use of existing knowledge and prioritize acquiring new biodiversity knowledge to enable better policy and management decisions. The ability to monitor ocean species and habitats has expanded dramatically over the past decade, with innovations in technology, genomics, taxonomy, big data management and sharing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Yet large fractions of the U.S. ocean remain almost unknown. The National Ocean Biodiversity Strategy (strategy) reflects the urgent need to leverage these advances. The goals of this strategy must be guided by the nation’s diverse voices and ways of knowing, in order to maximize effective and equitable stewardship of the ocean’s diverse life and its benefits to people. The strategy is intended as a guiding document for government to advance three overarching goals:

● Goal 1: Drive delivery of ocean biodiversity knowledge at the national scale. Objectives include developing an Implementation Plan for achieving the strategy’s three goals; establishing a coordination mechanism to manage the implementation; and documenting gaps in biodiversity knowledge and the benefits of ocean biodiversity to people and economies.

● Goal 2: Strengthen tools and institutions to deliver ocean biodiversity knowledge. Objectives include establishing a robust information pipeline to support indicators and dynamic maps of ocean biodiversity, from the coasts to the deep sea. This pipeline should include expanded observing systems and comprehensive data management; science and technology solutions to accelerate the availability of biodiversity information; and plans to leverage previous investments to rebuild and expand the nation’s human capital and infrastructure to sustain foundational taxonomy and biodiversity science.

● Goal 3: Protect, conserve, restore, and sustainably use ocean biodiversity. Objectives include expanding the collection, delivery, and use of biodiversity knowledge to inform actions that advance ocean protection, conservation, restoration, and sustainable development. Government should lead in establishing and incentivizing diverse partnerships across scales and sectors to implement those actions and should educate and involve the public to discover and value the nation’s diverse ocean life. Achieving these goals will require commitments across society: new federal and private investments, coordination across sectors to address climate and equity challenges, and engagement of Indigenous Knowledge holders and frontline communities as full partners throughout planning and implementation. The Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology (SOST) IWG-Biodiversity will begin developing an Implementation Plan to describe and direct specific actions to implement the strategy. Successful implementation of the strategy will harmonize and expand collection and delivery of timely knowledge on ocean life to all of society. The strategy will also enable evidence-based management and protection of the ocean. Advancing the strategy will build human and institutional capital and partnerships that support both existing mandates and new needs to rebuild and sustain biodiversity, achieve healthy ocean ecosystems, and manage living resources. Implementing the strategy will deliver knowledge for monitoring, modeling, forecasting, and assessments that support food security, public health, and cultural values, and that more effectively protect, conserve, and restore nature.

Publication Year 2024
Title The National Ocean Biodiversity Strategy
Authors Gabrielle Canonico, J. Emmett Duffy, Masha Edmonson, Katie Fillingham, Abigail Benson, Kelsey Bisson, Amanda Demopoulos, Beth Hinchey, Katsumi Matsumoto, Chris Meyer, James Price, Elaine Shen, Woody Turner, Mike Weise, Andrea Vander Woude, Lauren Wenzel
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Index ID 70255863
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Core Science Analytics and Synthesis; Wetland and Aquatic Research Center