NOAA Fisheries has released its 2021 Priorities and Annual Guidance report, with a renewed commitment to boost the economic value of all U.S. fisheries. The focus will be on ensuring the recovery and long-term sustainability of commercial and recreational fishing industries and support of aquaculture and the broader seafood supply chain, said Chris Oliver, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries.
Oliver noted that the global COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered the environment related to management of the nation’s fisheries and the protection and recovery of living marine resources. The situation also required adding crisis-related activities to NOAA’s portfolio for normal operations. Oliver said challenges with at-sea data collection identified in 2020 demonstrate the need to improve and leverage unmanned systems and artificial intelligence technologies to advance analytical methods to analyze and enhance data collection, and to leverage cloud applications and services to further support a more agile and innovative culture.
Still, he added, it is clear that COVID-19 will continue to affect agency operations and decision making through the coming year.
The report identifies three strategic goals for 2021.
The first is to amplify the economic value of commercial and recreational fisheries while ensuring their sustainability. The second is to conserve and recover protected species while supporting responsible fishing and resource development, and the third is improved organizational excellence and regulator efficiency. Details of all three goals are included in the report, online at https://media.fisheries.noaa.gov/2020-12/NOAAPrioritiesReport2021Final_508.pdf.