Earlier this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced substantial investments into habitat restoration and improving fisheries management. This funding comes out of the Inflation Reduction Act that was signed into law August 2022. Early on, this law was labeled “transformational” and “historic” by many in the conservation community, but specific details on how various Agencies would spend these millions of dollars. NOAA’s IRA spend plan took nearly 10 months to materialize, but the investments for our fisheries and habitats are pivotal and stand to produce incredible benefits.

“TU’s ongoing partnership with NOAA is helping us recover critical populations of salmon, steelhead, and trout and build resilience against the growing impacts of climate change for fish and communities,” said Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited, which received $20 million in NOAA funding last year. “This work is improving fish passage, but also helping rural communities by providing family-wage jobs, improving water quality, and helping prevent road failures and flood damage.”

NOAA received some $3.3 billion from the IRA, but this June announcement included specific spending plans. Below are some key top lines from the announcement:

  • Habitat Restoration and Fish Passage ($484 million): “Fish passage projects that restore access to healthy habitat for migratory fish. Habitat restoration projects that support fisheries and protected resources while also strengthening the resilience of coastal ecosystems and communities. Capacity building and on-the-ground restoration projects that advance the coastal habitat restoration priorities of tribes and underserved communities”
  • $145 million for data acquisition and monitoring: fisheries management is only as good as the science–this funding will improve NOAA’s scientific capabilities and thus fisheries management.
  • Climate, Ecosystems and Fisheries Initiative ($40 million): “Development of ocean ecosystem predictions in preparing for climate-driven problems. How those predictions extend to coastal communities and economies. Projected impacts. How coastal communities will use these predictions to increase resilience and the viability of their fisheries.”

Throughout the country, fisheries face many threats. Yet, they are resilient and will thrive when given the chance–investments like these will go a long way to helping all our fisheries from coast to coast!

Cover picture from NOAA.

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