California Current map

The California Current Ecosystem (CCE) is a dynamic environment in the eastern North Pacific Ocean. Spanning nearly 3,000 km from southern British Columbia, Canada to Baja California, Mexico, the California Current encompasses the United States Exclusive Economic Zone, the coastal land-sea interface, and adjacent terrestrial watersheds along the West Coast. This highly productive coastal ecosystem is fueled by the seasonal upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water. These seasonal episodes of productivity support populations of krill, squid, sardines, and other species that are fed upon by larger fishes, seabirds and marine mammals. Broad-scale climate forcing related to El Niño / La Niña events and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation help determine how much upwelling will occur at points along the coast in a given year. These waters support some of the most productive fisheries in the world. Millions of dollars are paid directly to fishermen from commercial fishery landings, and over 100,000 jobs on and off the water are supported by the coast's seafood industry. Fisheries are an important part of California Current's economy, culture, and history and provide a wide variety of sustainable and local seafood.

Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO)

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graph of Pacific Decadal Oscillation 1980-2020

Description of time series:

Positive PDO values typically mean cold, La Niña conditions, and negative PDO values typically mean warm, El Niño conditions. During the last five years, the PDO indicator shows a significant downward trend.

 

Description of gauge:

The unitless two-way gauge depicts whether the average of the last 5 years of data for the climate indicator is above or below the median value of the entire time series. High values in either direction mean extreme variation from the median value of the entire time series. 

 

Description of Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO):

The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is a long-term pattern of Pacific climate variability. The extreme phases of this climatic condition are classified as warm or cool, based on deviations from average ocean temperature in the northeast and central North Pacific Ocean. When the PDO has a positive value, sea surface temperatures are below average (cool) in the interior North Pacific and warm along the Pacific Coast. When the PDO has a negative value, the climate patterns are reversed, with above average sea surface temperatures in the interior and sea surface temperatures below average along the North American coast. The PDO waxes and wanes; warm and cold phases may persist for decades. Major changes in northeast Pacific marine ecosystems have been correlated with phase changes in the PDO. Warm phases have seen enhanced coastal ocean biological productivity in Alaska and inhibited productivity off the west coast of the United States, while cold PDO phases have seen the opposite, north-south pattern of marine ecosystem productivity. We present data from the Pacific Islands, Alaska, and California Current regions.

This climate condition impacts people and ecosystems across the globe and each of the indicators presented here. Interactions between the ocean and atmosphere alter weather around the world and can result in severe storms or mild weather, drought, or flooding. Beyond “just” influencing the weather and ocean conditions, these changes can produce secondary results that influence food supplies and prices, forest fires and flooding, and create additional economic and political consequences.

 

Data:

Climate indicator data was accessed from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center (https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/data/teledoc/nao.shtmlftp://ftp.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/wd52dg/data/indices/nao_index.tim). The data plotted are unitless and based on Sea Surface Temperature anomalies averaged across a given region.

East Pacific/ North Pacific Teleconnection Pattern Index (EP-NP)

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graph of East Pacific-North Pacific index 1980-2020

Description of time series:

Positive EP-NP values mean above-average surface temperatures over the eastern North Pacific, and below-average temperatures over the central North Pacific and eastern North America and the opposite for negative EP-NP values. During the last five years, the EP-NP indicator shows no significant trend.

 

Description of gauge:

The unitless two-way gauge depicts whether the average of the last 5 years of data for the climate indicator is above or below the median value of the entire time series. High values in either direction mean extreme variation from the median value of the entire time series. 

 

Description of East Pacific/ North Pacific Teleconnection Pattern Index:

The East Pacific/ North Pacific Teleconnection Pattern Index is a measure of climate variability. Positive EP-NP values mean above-average surface temperatures over the eastern North Pacific, and below-average temperatures over the central North Pacific and eastern North America and the opposite for negative EP-NP values.

This climate condition impacts people and ecosystems across the globe and each of the indicators presented here. Interactions between the ocean and atmosphere alter weather around the world and can result in severe storms or mild weather, drought, or flooding. Beyond “just” influencing the weather and ocean conditions, these changes can produce secondary results that influence food supplies and prices, forest fires and flooding, and create additional economic and political consequences.

 

Data:

Climate indicator data was accessed from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center (https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/data/teledoc/nao.shtmlftp://ftp.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/wd52dg/data/indices/nao_index.tim). The data plotted are unitless anomalies and averaged across a given region. 

 

El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

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graph of Oceanic Nino anomaly index 1980-2020

Description of time series:

The Oceanic Niño Index (ONI) is NOAA’s primary index for monitoring the El Niño-Southern Oscillation climate pattern. It is based on Sea Surface Temperature values in a particular part of the central equatorial Pacific, which scientists refer to as the Niño 3.4 region. Positive values of this indicator, greater than +0.5, indicate warm El Niño conditions, while negative values, less than -0.5, indicate cold La Niña conditions. The ONI indicator changed from positive to negative during the summer of 2020, and is now showing La Niña conditions.

 

Description of gauge:

The unitless two-way gauge depicts the most recent seasonal value for the ONI showing how far it is above or below the median value of the entire time series. High values in either direction mean extreme variation from the median value of the entire time series. 

 

Description of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO):

El Niño and La Niña are opposite phases of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a cyclical condition occurring across the Equatorial Pacific Ocean with worldwide effects on weather and climate. During an El Niño, surface waters in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific become warmer than average and the trade winds - blowing from east to west - greatly weaken. During a La Niña, surface waters in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific become much cooler, and the trade winds become much stronger. El Niños and La Niñas generally last about 6 months but can extend up to  2 years. The time between events is irregular, but generally varies between 2-7 years. To monitor ENSO conditions, NOAA operates a network of buoys, which measure temperature, currents, and winds in the equatorial Pacific. 

 

This climate pattern impacts people and ecosystems around the world. Interactions between the ocean and atmosphere alter weather globally and can result in severe storms or mild weather, drought or flooding. Beyond “just” influencing the weather and ocean conditions, these changes can produce secondary results that influence food supplies and prices, forest fires and flooding, and create additional economic and political consequences. For example, along the west coast of the U.S., warm El Niño events are known to inhibit the delivery of nutrients from subsurface waters, suppressing local fisheries. 

 

Data:

Climate indicator data was accessed from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center (https://origin.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ensostuff…). The data are plotted in degrees Celsius and represent Sea Surface Temperature anomalies averaged across the so-called Niño 3.4 region in the east-central tropical Pacific between 120°-170°W.

Multivariate El Niño-Southern Oscillation Index

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graph of Multivariate ENSO index 1980-2020

Description of time series:

Like the Oceanic Niño Index, positive MEI values indicate warm, El Niño conditions and negative MEI values indicate cold, La Niña conditions. The MEI indicator changed from positive to negative during the summer of 2020, and is now showing La Niña conditions.

 

Description of gauge:

The unitless two-way gauge depicts the most recent seasonal value for the MEI showing how far it is above or below the median value of the entire time series. High values in either direction mean extreme variation from the median value of the entire time series. 

 

Description of Multivariate El Niño-Southern Oscillation Index:

The Multivariate El Niño-Southern Oscillation Index (MEI) is a more holistic representation of the atmospheric and oceanic conditions that occur during ENSO events and characterizes their intensity. MEI is determined from five variables from the central and eastern equatorial Pacific (Sea-level pressure, surface wind components, sea surface temperature, surface air temperature, and cloudiness) while ENSO is calculated from only two (sea surface temperature and trade wind strength). This index is calculated twelve times per year for each sliding bi-monthly season i.e. Dec-Jan, Jan-Feb, Feb-Mar, etc. We present data from the Pacific Islands, Alaska, and California Current regions.

This climate condition impacts people and ecosystems across the globe and each of the indicators presented here. Interactions between the ocean and atmosphere alter weather around the world and can result in severe storms or mild weather, drought, or flooding. Beyond “just” influencing the weather and ocean conditions, these changes can produce secondary results that influence food supplies and prices, forest fires and flooding, and create additional economic and political consequences.

 

Data:

Climate indicator data was accessed from the NOAA’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory (https://psl.noaa.gov/enso/mei/). The data plotted are unitless anomalies.

 

 

Sea Surface Temperature

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California Current sea surface temperature

Description of time series:

The time series shows the integrated sea surface temperature for this entire region.  During the last five years there has been no notable trend and values have remained within the 10th and 90th percentiles. 

 

Description of gauge:

This gauge does not show actual mean temperatures, but rather the gauge depicts the average of the last 5 years of data for Sea Surface Temperature relative to the median value of the entire time series.  A gauge indicating 75 or greater indicates warmer than average temperatures over the past 5 years, whereas a gauge indicating 25 or less indicates cooler than average temperatures over the time period. The current value indicates that sea surface temperature is near the hotter end of what has been observed. Persistently warm conditions such as these can result in profound changes to the regional ecosystem.

 

Description of Sea Surface Temperature:

Sea Surface Temperature (SST) is defined as the average temperature of the top few millimeters of the ocean. This temperature impacts the rate of all physical, chemical, and most biological processes occurring in the ocean. Sea Surface Temperature is globally monitored by sensors on satellites, buoys, ships, ocean reference stations, AUVs and other technologies. 

 

Sea Surface Temperature monitoring tells us how the ocean and atmosphere interact, as well as providing fundamental data on the global climate system. This information also aids us in weather prediction i.e. identifying the onset of El Niño and La Niña cycles - multiyear shifts in atmospheric pressure and wind speeds. These shifts affect ocean circulation, global weather patterns, and marine ecosystems. Sea Surface Temperature anomalies have been linked to shifting marine resources. With warming temperatures, we observe the poleward movements of fish and other species. Temperature extremes - both ocean heatwaves and cold spells, have been linked to coral bleaching as well as fishery and aquaculture mortality. We present annual average SST in all regions.

 

Data:

The sea surface temperature were accessed from (https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oisst).  The data are plotted in degrees Celsius.

Sea level

Coastal sea level from tide gauges

graph of coastal sea level for Northeast US from 1980-2020

Sea level varies due to the force of gravity, the Earth’s rotation and irregular features on the ocean floor. Other forces affecting sea levels include temperature, wind, ocean currents, tides, etc. With 40 percent of Americans living in densely populated coastal areas, having a clear understanding of sea level trends is critical to societal and economic well being.

 

Measuring and predicting sea levels, tides and storm surge are important for determining coastal boundaries, ensuring safe shipping, and emergency preparedness, etc. NOAA monitors sea levels using tide stations and satellite laser altimeters. Tide stations around the globe tell us what is happening at local levels, while satellite measurements provide us with the average height of the entire ocean. Taken together, data from these sources are fed into models that tell us how our ocean sea levels are changing over time. For this site, data from tide stations around the US were combined to create regionally averaged records of sea-level change since 1980. We present data for all regions.

Chlorophyll-a

Chlorophyll-A time series for California Current

Description of time series:

During the last five years the chlorophyll a indicator shows no significant trend.

 

Description of gauge:

The gauge value of 40 indicates that over the last five years, average chlorophyll a has been lower than average.

 

Description of Chlorophyll a:

At the base of most marine food webs are microscopic plants, called phytoplankton - which also produce nearly half of the Earth’s oxygen. One way we measure the amount of phytoplankton in the ocean is via a pigment that phytoplankton produce - chlorophyll a. Using ocean color sensors on satellites, we can measure the amount of chlorophyll a in surface waters. Environmental and oceanographic factors continuously influence the abundance, composition, spatial distribution, and productivity of phytoplankton. Tracking the amount of phytoplankton in the ocean gives us the status of the base of the food web, and how much food is available for other animals to grow. Changes in the amount of phytoplankton in the ocean are part of the natural seasonal cycle, but can also indicate an ecosystem’s response to a major external disturbance.

 

Overall Scores mean the following:

  • 0 - 10:   “significantly lower” the long term median state
  • 10 - 25:  “considerably lower” the long term median state
  • 25 - 50:  “slightly lower” the long term median state
  • 50:  the long term median state
  • 50 - 75:  “slightly above” the long term median state
  • 75 - 90  “considerably above” the long term median state
  • 90 - 100:  “significantly higher” the long term median state

High values of Chlorophyll a can be good (lots of big nutrious diatoms) or bad (Harmful Algal Blooms), depending on the species present.

 

Data:

Chlorophyll a data were obtained from the NOAA Fisheries Coastal & Oceanic Plankton Ecology, Production, & Observations Database. Measurements of ocean chlorophyll concentration were combined from both the SeaWiFS and MODIS-Aqua "ocean color" datasets and binned at 0.5 x 0.5 degree latitude-longitude boxes, annual averages for each year calculated from the average of all monthly means in that year, and the annual mean was calculated as the average of all annual means. Source: https://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/copepod/about/about-copepod.html.

 

Zooplankton

Zooplankton time series California Current

Description of time series:

During the last five years the zooplankton biomass indicator shows a significant downward trend.

 

Description of gauge:

The gauge value of 86 indicates that over the last five years, average zooplankton biomass has been much higher than the median value.

 

Description of Zooplankton:

Zooplankton are a diverse group of animals found in oceans, bays, and estuaries. By eating phytoplankton, and each other, zooplankton play a significant role in the transfer of materials and energy up the oceanic food web (e.g., fish, birds, marine mammals, humans.) Like phytoplankton, environmental and oceanographic factors continuously influence the abundance, composition and spatial distribution of zooplankton. These include the abundance and type of phytoplankton present in the water, as well as the water’s temperature, salinity, oxygen, and pH. Zooplankton can rapidly react to changes in their environment. For this reason monitoring the status of zooplankton is essential for detecting changes in, and evaluating the status of ocean ecosystems. We present the annual average total biovolume of zooplankton in the Alaska, California Current, Gulf of Mexico and Northeast regions.

 

Overall Scores mean the following:

High values of zooplankton can be good (lots of lipid rich colder water species) or bad (lots of lipid poor warmer water species), depending on the region.

  • 0 - 10: The five-year zooplankton biomass average is very low compared to the median value.
  • 10 - 25: The five-year zooplankton biomass average is much lower than the median value.
  • 25 - 50: The five-year zooplankton biomass average is lower than the median value.
  •  50: The five-year zooplankton biomass average equals the median value.
  • 50 - 75: The five-year zooplankton biomass average is higher than the median value.
  • 75 - 90: The five-year zooplankton biomass average is much higher than the median value.
  • 90 - 100: The five-year zooplankton biomass average is very high compared to the median value.

 

Data:

Zooplankton data for each region were obtained from the NOAA Fisheries Coastal & Oceanic Plankton Ecology, Production, & Observations Database, an integrated data set of quality-controlled, globally distributed plankton biomass and abundance data with common biomass units and served in a common electronic format with supporting documentation and access software. Source: https://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/copepod/about/about-copepod.html

 

Forage fish

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forage fish time series California Current

Description of time series:

During the last five years the forage fish biomass shows no significant trend but is above the 90th percentile.

 

Description of gauge:

The Gauge value of 93 indicates that over the last five years, the forage fish biomass is very high compared to the median value.

 

Description of forage fish:

Forage fish or otherwise known as small pelagics are fish and invertebrates (like squids) that inhabit - the pelagic zone - the open ocean. The number and distribution of pelagic fish vary regionally, depending on multiple physical and ecological factors i.e. the availability of light, nutrients, dissolved oxygen, temperature, salinity, predation, abundance of phytoplankton and zooplankton, etc. Small pelagics are known to exhibit “boom and bust” cycles of abundance in response to these conditions. Examples include anchovies, sardines, shad, menhaden and the fish that feed on them

Small pelagic species are often important to fisheries and serve as forage for commercially and recreationally important fish, as well as other ecosystem species (e.g. seabirds and marine mammals). They are a critical part of marine food webs and important to monitor because so many other organisms depend on them. We present the annual total biomass of small pelagics/forage fish in the Alaska, California Current, and Northeast regions, as well as selected taxa in the Gulf of Mexico region.

 

Overall Scores means the following:

  • 0 - 10: The five-year forage fish small pelagics average is very low compared to the median value.
  • 10 - 25: The five-year forage fish small pelagics average is much lower than the median value.
  • 25 - 50: The five-year forage fish small pelagics average is lower than the median value.
  • 50: The five-year forage fish small pelagics average equals the median value.
  • 50 - 75: The five-year forage fish small pelagics average is higher than the median value.
  • 75 - 90: The five-year forage fish small pelagics average is much higher than the median value.
  • 90 - 100: The five-year forage fish small pelagics average is very high compared to the median value.

 

Data:

Data for forage fish and small pelagics were obtained from regional NOAA Integrated Ecosystem Assessment Program teams that produce indicators and Ecosystem Status Report. For more information https://www.integratedecosystemassessment.noaa.gov/

 

Seabirds

Seabird time series for California Current

Description of time series:

During the last five years the seabird density anomaly shows no significant trend.

 

Description of gauge:

The Gauge value of 47 indicates that over the last five years, the seabird density anomaly is lower than the median value.

 

Description of Seabirds:

Seabirds are a vital part of marine ecosystems and valuable indicators of an ecosystem’s status.  Seabirds are attracted to fishing vessels and frequently get hooked or entangled in fishing gear, especially longline fisheries. This is a common threat to seabirds. Depending on the geographic region, fishermen in the United States often interact with albatross, cormorants, gannet, loons, pelicans, puffins, gulls, storm-petrels, shearwaters, terns, and many other species. We track seabirds because of their importance to marine food webs, but also as an indication of efficient fishing practices.  We present estimates of seabird abundance in the Alaska, California Current, Gulf of Mexico and Northeast regions.

Overall Scores means the following:

  • 0 - 10: The five-year seabirds average is very low compared to the median value.
  • 10 - 25: The five-year seabirds average is much lower than the median value.
  • 25 - 50: The five-year seabirds average is lower than the median value.
  • 50: The five-year seabirds average equals the median value.
  • 50 - 75: The five-year seabirds average is higher than the median value.
  • 75 - 90: The five-year seabirds average is much higher than the median value.
  • 90 - 100: The five-year seabirds average is very high compared to the median value.

 

Data:

Data for Alaska, California Current, and the Gulf of Mexico were obtained from the regional NOAA Integrated Ecosystem Assessment Program teams that produce indicators and Ecosystem Status Report. For more information see https://www.integratedecosystemassessment.noaa.gov/. Seabird count and transect length data for the Northeast were extracted from the Atlantic Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species (AMAPPS) annual reports. Counts were summed and divided by the sum of the transect length in nautical miles. For more information see https://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/psb/AMAPPS/

 

 

Overfished stocks

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Overfished stocks time series for California Current

Description of time series:

During the last five years the number of overfished stocks shows a significant upward trend.

 

Description of gauge:

The gauge value of 24 indicates that over the last five years, the number of overfished stocks is much lower than the median value.

 

Description of Overfished stocks:

Fish play an important role in marine ecosystems, supporting the ecological structure of many marine food webs. Caught by recreational and commercial fisheries, fish support significant parts of coastal economies, and can play an important cultural role in many regions.  To understand the health of fish populations - as well as their abundance and distribution, we regularly assess fish stocks - stock assessments. Assessments let us know if a stock is experiencing overfishing or if it is overfished i.e. how much catch is sustainable while maintaining a healthy stock. And, if a stock becomes depleted, stock assessments can help determine what steps may be taken to rebuild it to sustainable levels. Understanding stock assessments helps measure how well we’re managing and recovering fish stocks over time. We present the number of overfished stocks by year in all regions.

 

Overall Scores mean the following:

High values for overfished stocks are bad, low numbers are good.

  • 0 - 10: The five-year overfished stock status average is very low compared to the median value.
  • 10 - 25: The five-year overfished stock status average is much lower than the median value.
  • 25 - 50: The five-year overfished stock status average is lower than the median value.
  • 50: The five-year overfished stock status average equals the median value.
  • 50 - 75: The five-year overfished stock status average is higher than the median value.
  • 75 - 90: The five-year overfished stock status average is much higher than the median value.
  • 90 - 100: The five-year overfished stock status average is very high compared to the median value.

 

Data:

Data were obtained (28 Aug 2019) from the NOAA Fisheries Fishery Stock Status website https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/population-assessments/fishery-stock-status-updates. Stocks that met the criteria for overfished status were summed by year for each region.

Threatened/ endangered marine mammals

Endangered Species Act threatened/ endangered species

Number of threatened/endangered marine mammal stock from 1980-2019

Description of time series:

Trend analysis was not appropriate for ESA data.

 

Description of gauge:

The Gauge value of 50 indicates that over the last five years, ESA threatened or endangered marine mammals average is the median value.

 

Description of Threatened and Endangered Marine mammals:

Some marine mammals face significant threats. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) aims to conserve endangered and threatened species and the ecosystems they depend on. Under the ESA, a species is considered endangered if it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, or threatened if it is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future.  We present the annual number of threatened and endangered marine mammals in all regions except the Caribbean. Data for the Southeast and Gulf of Mexico regions are combined.

 

Overall Scores mean the following:

High values of ESA threatened and endangered species are bad, low numbers are good.

  • 0 - 10: The five-year ESA threatened or endangered marine mammals average is very low compared to the median value.
  • 10 - 25: The five-year ESA threatened or endangered marine mammals is much lower than the median value.
  • 25 - 50: The five-year ESA threatened or endangered marine mammals average is lower than the median value.
  • 50: The five-year ESA threatened or endangered marine mammals average equals the median value.
  • 50 - 75: The five-year ESA threatened or endangered marine mammals average is higher than the median value.
  • 75 - 90: The five-year ESA threatened or endangered marine mammals average is much higher than the median value.
  • 90 - 100: The five-year ESA threatened or endangered marine mammals average is very high compared to the median value.

 

Data:

Summary data tables from the NOAA Fisheries Protected Resources Species Information System were obtained from the database manager 3 April 2020. The number of ESA threatened and endangered species were summed for each region by year.

Strategic/ depleted marine mammal stocks

Marine Mammal Protection Act strategic & depleted stocks

Strategic/depleted marine mammals time series for California Current

Description of time series:

Trend analysis was not appropriate for MMPA data.

 

Description of gauge:

The Gauge value of 50 indicates that over the last five years, MMPA strategic and depleted marine mammals average is the median value.

 

Description of marine mammals depleted stocks (MMPA):

A strategic stock is defined by the Marine Mammal Protection Act as a marine mammal stock—For which the level of direct human-caused mortality exceeds the potential biological removal level; Which, based on the best available scientific information, is declining and is likely to be listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act within the foreseeable future; or Which is listed as a threatened or endangered species under the ESA, or is designated as depleted under the MMPA. 

A depleted stock is defined by the MMPA as any case in which—The Secretary of Commerce, after consultation with the Marine Mammal Commission and the Committee of Scientific Advisors on Marine Mammals established under MMPA title II, determines that a species or population stock is below its optimum sustainable population; a State, to which authority for the conservation and management of a species or population stock is transferred under section 109, determines that such species or stock is below its optimum sustainable population; or A species or population stock is listed as an endangered species or a threatened species under the ESA. We present the annual number of strategic and depleted marine mammals in all regions except the Caribbean. Data for the Southeast and Gulf of Mexico regions are combined. 

 

Overall Scores mean the following:

 

  • 0 - 10: The five-year MMPA strategic and depleted marine mammals average is very low compared to the median value.
  • 10 - 25: The five-year MMPA strategic and depleted marine mammals average is much lower than the median value.
  • 25 - 50: The five-year MMPA strategic and depleted marine mammals average is lower than the median value.
  • 50: The five-year MMPA strategic and depleted marine mammals average equals the median value.
  • 50 - 75: The five-year MMPA strategic and depleted marine mammals average is higher than the median value.
  • 75 - 90: The five-year MMPA strategic and depleted marine mammals average is much higher than the median value.
  • 90 - 100: The five-year MMPA strategic and depleted marine mammals average is very high compared to the median value.

 

Data:

Data methods Summary data tables from the NOAA Fisheries Protected Resources Species Information System were obtained from the database manager 3 April 2020. The number of MMPA strategic and depleted stock species were summed for each region by year. 

 

Unusual Mortality Events

significant die-offs in a marine mammal population

graph of Unusual Mortality Events for the California Current region from 1980-2020

Description of time series:

Trend analysis was not appropriate for UME data.

 

Description of gauge:

The gauge value of 40 indicates that over the last five years, average marine mammal unusual mortality events have been lower than average.

 

Description of Unusual Mortality events:

Marine mammals are important parts of marine ecosystems. Sometimes we observe significant die-offs in a marine mammal population - also called unusual mortality events (UMEs). A UME is defined as "a stranding that is unexpected; involves a significant die-off of any marine mammal population; and demands immediate response." UMEs are often caused by ecological factors (e.g. changes in ocean conditions or food sources), biotoxins, infectious disease, and human interactions, but in some cases the cause cannot be determined. Some unusual mortality events occur over a period of months and others last for years. Understanding and investigating marine mammal UMEs is crucial because they can be indicators of ocean health, giving insight into larger environmental issues, which may also have implications for human health. We present the number of unusual marine mammal mortality events in a given year in all the Alaska, Pacific Islands, California Current, Gulf of Mexico, Southeast, and Northeast regions.

 

Overall Scores mean the following:

High values for UME are bad, low values are good.

  • 0 - 10: The five-year UME average is very low compared to the median value.
  • 10 - 25: The five-year UME average is much lower than the median value.
  • 25 - 50: The five-year UME average is lower than the median value.
  • 50: The five-year UME average equals the median value.
  • 50 - 75: The five-year UME average is higher than the median value.
  • 75 - 90: The five-year UME average is much higher than the median value.
  • 90 - 100: The five-year UME average is very high compared to the median value.

 

Data:

Unusual mortality event (UME) data for marine mammals were accessed from the NOAA Fisheries Active and Closed Unusual Mortality Events website (https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-life-distress/active-and-closed-unusual-mortality-events). A value of 1 was assigned for each UME (open and closed) reported as occurring for any portion of a given year and the values were summed by year for each region. For UMEs where the date range was not indicated, a value of 1 was applied only for the year the UME was declared.

Coastal population

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graph of coastal population for the California Current region from 1980-2020

Description of time series:

The 2014 – 2018 average coastal population in the California Current ecosystem was substantially above historic levels, although the recent trend is not different from historical trends.

 

Description of gauge:

The 2014 – 2018 average coastal population within the California Current ecosystem was greater than 94% of all population levels between 1970 to 2018, again highlighting the substantial growth in the coastal population of this region.

 

Description of Coastal Population:

While marine ecosystems are important for people all across the country, they are essential for  people living in coastal communities. The population density of coastal counties is over six times greater than inland counties. In the U.S. coastal counties make up less than 10 percent of the total land area (not including Alaska), but account for 39 percent of the total population. From 1970 to 2010, the population of these counties increased by almost 40% and are projected to increase by over 10 million people or 8+% into the 2020s. 

 

The population density of an area is an important factor for economic planning, emergency preparedness, understanding environmental impacts, resource demand, and many other reasons. Thus, this indicator is important to track. We present the number of residents within all regions.

 

Extreme Gauge values:

A value of zero on the gauge means that the average coastal population over the last 5 years of data was below any annual population level up until that point, while a value of 100 would indicate the average over that same period was above any annual population level up until that point.

 

Data:

Coastal population data was retrieved from the Census Bureau’s county population totals, filtered to present coastal counties using the Census Bureau’s list of coastal counties within each state. Coastal county populations were then summed within each region for reporting purposes.

Coastal tourism

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graph of coastal GDP for the California Current region from 1980-2020

Description of time series:

The growth in the value of coastal tourism within the California Current ecosystem varies considerably across time, although there is no clear trend and the last 5 years of growth is not different from historical patterns.  

 

Description of gauge:

The value of coastal tourism within the California Current ecosystem grew at a rate of 1.3% between 2015-2016, less than the rest of the regional economy’s growth of 3.9%, but more than other ocean sectors which grew only 0.9% over that same time period.

 

Description of Coastal Tourism:

Coastal tourism Gross Domestic Product is the total measure (in billions of dollars) of goods and services provided from tourism along the coast. U.S. coasts are host to a multitude of travel, tourism, and recreation activities. These provide social and economic benefits as well as impact the environment. As more and more communities turn to tourism for economic development, it becomes crucial to develop a sustainable tourism industry that is good for communities, the environment, and society more broadly. To accomplish this, we need data on the social and economic impacts of recreation and tourism, and its impacts on natural resources. We present the annual total change (in billions of dollars) of goods and services provided from tourism in the Gulf of Mexico, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Pacific Islands, Southeast, and California Current regions.

 

Extreme Gauge values:

A value of zero on the gauge means that the average coastal tourism over the last 5 years of data was below any annual coastal tourism level up until that point, while a value of 100 would indicate the average over that same period was above any annual coastal tourism level up until that point.

 

Data:

Coastal Tourism GDP data was taken from NOAA’s Office of Coastal Management Economics National Ocean Watch custom report building tool, with contextual data taken from the 2019 NOAA Report on the U.S. Ocean and Great Lakes Economy: Regional and State Profiles. Growth was estimated by subtracting the previous year’s Coastal Tourism GDP from the current year’s Coastal Tourism GDP, then dividing by the previous year’s Coastal Tourism GDP to present a percentage. All data was deflated to 2012 constant dollars using the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ chained dollar methodology.

 

Coastal employment

graph of coastal employment for the California Current region from 1980-2020

Description of time series:

Average coastal employment in the California Current ecosystem between 2014 and 2018 was substantially above historical levels, with an increasing trend over that period.  

 

Description of gauge:

The 2014 – 2018 average annual employment level in the California Current ecosystem is greater than 90% of all employment levels between 1990 and 2018, indicating that employment levels over that period were high compared to historical levels.

 

Description of Coastal Employment:

Coastal employment numbers were downloaded from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ quarterly census of employment and wages, filtered to present only coastal county values using the Census Bureau’s list of coastal counties within each state. Of note is that these data fail to include self-employed individuals. Coastal county employment numbers were then summed within each region for reporting purposes.

 

Extreme Gauge values:

A value of zero on the gauge means that the average coastal employment level over the last 5 years of data was below any annual employment level up until that point, while a value of 100 would indicate the average over that same period was above any annual employment level up until that point.

Data:

Coastal employment numbers were downloaded from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ quarterly census of employment and wages, filtered to present only coastal county values using the Census Bureau’s list of coastal counties within each state. Of note is that these data fail to include self-employed individuals. Coastal county employment numbers were then summed within each region for reporting purposes.

Commercial fishery landings

graph of commercial fishery landings for the California Current region from 1980-2020

Description of time series:

Between 2013 and 2017, commercial landings from the California Current ecosystem were substantially below historic levels, with a downward trend across time.  

 

Description of gauge:

Between 2013 and 2017, average annual commercial landings from the California Current ecosystem were greater than only 6% of all landings from 1950 to 2017, highlighting the substantial decrease in landings produced recently compared to historical periods.

 

Description of Commercial Fishing (Landings and Revenue):

Commercial landings are the weight of, or revenue from, fish that are caught, brought to shore, processed, and sold for profit. It does not include sport or subsistence (to feed themselves) fishermen or for-hire sector, which earns its revenue from selling recreational fishing trips to saltwater anglers. 

 

Commercial landings make up a major part of coastal economies. U.S. commercial fisheries are among the world’s largest and most sustainable; producing seafood, fish meal, vitamin supplements, and a host of other products for both domestic and international consumers. 

 

The weight (tonnage), and revenue from the sale of commercial landings provides data on the ability of marine ecosystems to continue to supply these important products. 

 

Extreme Gauge values:

A value of zero on the gauge means that the average revenue or landings over the last 5 years of data was below any annual value up until that point, while a value of 100 would indicate the average value over that same period was above any annual value up until that point.

Data:

Commercial landings and gross revenue were downloaded from the National Marine Fisheries Service’s annual commercial fisheries landings query tool which can be found at https://foss.nmfs.noaa.gov/apexfoss/f?p=215:200::::::. State pounds landed and revenue generated were aggregated to the appropriate region, and all revenue data was deflated to 2017 constant dollars using the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Consumer Price Index (series CUUR0000SA0).

Commercial fishing revenue

graph of commercial fishing revenue for the California Current region from 1980-2020

Description of time series:

Commercial revenue from the California Current ecosystem between 2017 – 2013 was not different than historical patterns, and there is no trend in values.  Given that landings were at historically low levels during that same period, the average price per pound of fish is substantially higher than historical levels.  

 

Description of gauge:

Between 2013 and 2017, average annual commercial revenue from the California Current was greater than 50% of all annual revenue from 1950 to 2017, the median value.

 

Description of Commercial Fishing (Landings and Revenue):

Commercial landings are the weight of, or revenue from, fish that are caught, brought to shore, processed, and sold for profit. It does not include sport or subsistence (to feed themselves) fishermen or for-hire sector, which earns its revenue from selling recreational fishing trips to saltwater anglers. 

 

Commercial landings make up a major part of coastal economies. U.S. commercial fisheries are among the world’s largest and most sustainable; producing seafood, fish meal, vitamin supplements, and a host of other products for both domestic and international consumers. 

 

The weight (tonnage), and revenue from the sale of commercial landings provides data on the ability of marine ecosystems to continue to supply these important products. 

 

Extreme Gauge values:

A value of zero on the gauge means that the average revenue or landings over the last 5 years of data was below any annual value up until that point, while a value of 100 would indicate the average value over that same period was above any annual value up until that point.

Data:

Commercial landings and gross revenue were downloaded from the National Marine Fisheries Service’s annual commercial fisheries landings query tool which can be found at https://foss.nmfs.noaa.gov/apexfoss/f?p=215:200::::::. State pounds landed and revenue generated were aggregated to the appropriate region, and all revenue data was deflated to 2017 constant dollars using the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Consumer Price Index (series CUUR0000SA0).

Recreational fishing effort

graph of recreational fishing effort for the California Current region from 1980-2020

Description of time series:

Between 2013 and 2018, recreational fishing effort in California Current is below historic levels and shows no trend.  

 

Description of gauge:

Between 2013 and 2018, California Current’s average recreational fishing effort was greater than 6% of all recreational fishing effort from 1982 to 2018.

 

Description of Recreational Fishing (Effort and Harvest):

U.S. saltwater recreational fishing is an important source of seafood, jobs, and recreation for millions of anglers and for-hire recreational businesses. Recreational fishing effort is measured as “Angler Trips”, which is the number of recreational fishing trips people go on. Recreational fishing harvest is the number of fish caught and brought to shore on recreational fishing trips. 

Recreational effort and harvest help us understand how recreational opportunities and seafood derived from our marine environment is changing over time. Fisheries managers use this data to set annual catch limits and fishing regulations, including season lengths, size, and daily catch limits. We present the total number of fish caught and angler trips annually for all marine fish in all regions. 

 

Extreme Gauge values:

A value of zero on the gauge means that the average effort or harvest over the last 5 years of data was below any annual value up until that point, while a value of 100 would indicate the average value over that same period was above any annual value up until that point.

Data:

Recreational harvest and effort data pulled from National Summary Query at https://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/recreational-fisheries/data-and-documentation/queries/index Units of data are in Effort in Angler Days and Harvest in numbers of fish.

Recreational fishing harvest

graph of recreational fishing effort for the California Current region from 1980-2020

Description of time series:

Between 2013 and 2018, recreational harvest from California Current are around historic levels. There is no significant trend apparent.  

 

Description of gauge:

Between 2013 and 2018, California Current’s average recreational harvest were greater than 21% of all landings from 1982 to 2018.

 

Description of Recreational Fishing (Effort and Harvest):

U.S. saltwater recreational fishing is an important source of seafood, jobs, and recreation for millions of anglers and for-hire recreational businesses. Recreational fishing effort is measured as “Angler Trips”, which is the number of recreational fishing trips people go on. Recreational fishing harvest is the number of fish caught and brought to shore on recreational fishing trips. 

Recreational effort and harvest help us understand how recreational opportunities and seafood derived from our marine environment is changing over time. Fisheries managers use this data to set annual catch limits and fishing regulations, including season lengths, size, and daily catch limits. We present the total number of fish caught and angler trips annually for all marine fish in all regions. 

 

Extreme Gauge values:

A value of zero on the gauge means that the average effort or harvest over the last 5 years of data was below any annual value up until that point, while a value of 100 would indicate the average value over that same period was above any annual value up until that point.

Data:

Recreational harvest and effort data pulled from National Summary Query at https://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/recreational-fisheries/data-and-documentation/queries/index Units of data are in Effort in Angler Days and Harvest in numbers of fish. 

Commercial fishing engagement

Graph of commercial fishing engagement index in the California Current region from 2009-2016

Description of time series:

There is not enough data to do trend analysis. 

 

Description of gauge:

The 2012 – 2016 average percentage of commercially engaged communities in the California Current ecosystem is greater than 25% of all engagement levels between 2009 and 2016, indicating that recent engagement levels are somewhat lower than historical levels.

 

Description of Fishing Engagement:

Recreational and commercial fishing engagement is measured by the presence of fishing activity in coastal communities. The commercial engagement index is measured through permits, fish dealers, and vessel landings.  The data for recreational engagement indicators varies by state. A high rank within these indicates more engagement in fisheries. For details on both data sources and indicator development, please see https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/socioeconomics/social-indicators-fishing-communities-0.

NOAA Monitors recreational and commercial fishing engagement to better understand the social and economic impacts of fishing policies and regulations on our nation’s vital fishing communities. This and other social indicators help assess a coastal community’s resilience. NOAA works with state and local partners to monitor these indicators. We present data from the Northeast, Southeast, Gulf of Mexico, California Current, Alaska, and Pacific Island regions.

 

Extreme Gauge values:

A value of zero on the gauge means that the average percentage of communities engaged in commercial or recreational fishing over the last 5 years of data was below any annual engagement level up until that point, while a value of 100 would indicate the average over that same period was above any engagement level up until that point.

 

Data:

Recreational and Commercial fishing engagement data is from the National Marine Fisheries Service’s social indicator data portal:https://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/data-and-tools/social-indicators/ The percentage of all communities in each region classified as medium, medium high, or highly engaged is presented for both recreational and commercial fishing.

 

Beach closures

graph of EPA-mandated beach closures for the California Current region from 1980-2020

Interpretation of time series:

Trend analysis was not appropriate for BEACH Act data.  

 

Interpretation of gauge:

A gauge was not appropriate for this data.

 

Description of beach closure:

Beach closures are the number of days when beach water and/or air quality is determined to be unsafe. Unsafe water and air quality may have significant impacts on human health, local economies, and the ecosystem. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) supports coastal states, counties and and tribes in monitoring beach water quality, and notifying the public when beaches must be closed. Beach water quality is determined by the concentration of bacteria in the water (either Enterococcus sp.or Escherichia coli). 

 

The information presented is from states, counties, and tribes that submit data to the EPA Beach Program reporting database. Not all US beach closures are captured in this database.  We present a summary of known EPA Beach Program closure days by year for Alaska, California Current, Gulf of Mexico, Northeast, Hawai’ian Islands, and the Southeast regions..

 

Gauge values

  • 0 - 10: The five-year beach closure days average is very low compared to the median value.
  • 10 - 25: The five-year beach closure days average is much lower than the median value.
  • 25 - 50: The five-year beach closure days average is lower than the median value.
  • 50: The five-year beach closure days average equals the median value.
  • 50 - 75: The five-year beach closure days average is higher than the median value.
  • 75 - 90: The five-year beach closure days average is much higher than the median value.
  • 90 - 100: The five-year beach closure days average is very high compared to the median 

 

 

Source and analysis of data:

Data obtained from the EPA BEACON website have been provided to EPA by the coastal and Great Lakes states, tribes and territories that receive grants under the BEACH Act.  Data was refined to closure, by state or territory, by year. Data that were not identified to a water body or identified as inland water were not included. Data compiled by states or territory and  combined in regions defined as IEA regions except PI includes Guam and Marianas. Caribbean and South Atlantic data stand alone. Not all beaches in a state or territory are monitored through the EPA BEACH Act. Data for beaches monitored by state and local municipalities is not included. Changes in the number of beach closure days may be driven by changes in the number of beaches monitored under the BEACH Act versus by state and local municipalities.

 

Billion-dollar disasters

graph of billion-dollar storm events for the California Current region from 1980-2020

Interpretation of time series:

The number of billion dollar disasters within the California Current ecosystem is quite variable over time, fluctuating between zero and three disasters a year.   The number of disasters over the past 5 years is substantially higher than historical levels of events, although there is no recent trend in the number of events.  

 

Interpretation of gauge:

The average number of billion dollar disasters in the California Current ecosystem over the last 5 years is higher than 92 percent of all annual disaster frequencies.

 

Description of billion dollar disasters:

In the United States the number of weather and climate-related disasters exceeding 1 billion dollars has been increasing since 1980. These events have significant impacts to coastal economies and communities. The Billion Dollar Disaster indicator provides information on the frequency and the total estimated costs of major weather and climate events that occur in the United States. This indicator compiles the annual number of weather and climate-related disasters across seven event types. Events are included if they are estimated to cause more than one billion U.S. dollars in direct losses. The cost estimates of these events are adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and are based on costs documented in several Federal and private-sector databases. We Present the total annual number of disaster events for all regions.

 

Extreme Gauge values

A value of zero on the gauge means that the average number of disasters over the last 5 years of data was below any annual level up until that point, while a value of 100 would indicate the average over that same period was above any annual number of disasters up until that point. 

 

 

Source and analysis of data:

Billion dollar disaster event frequency data are taken from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. The number of disasters within each region were summed for every year of available data. Although the number is the count of unique disaster events within a region, the same disaster can impact multiple regions, meaning a sum across regions will overestimate the unique number of disasters.

Resources

Southwest Fisheries Science Center Open Data Portal

The mission of NOAA Fisheries is to generate the scientific information and analysis necessary for the conservation, management, and utilization of the region's living marine resources.

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Condition Report

The purpose of a condition report is to use the best available science and most recent data to assess the status and trends of various parts of the sanctuary's ecosystem. 

Cordell Banks National Marine Sanctuary Condition Report

Sanctuary condition reports are tools employed by NOAA to assess the condition and trends of national marine sanctuary resources. Condition reports provide a standardized summary of resources in NOAA’s sanctuaries; drivers and pressures on those resources; current conditions and trends for resources and ecosystem services; and describe existing management responses to the pressures that threaten the integrity of the marine environment.

Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Condition Report

Sanctuary condition reports are tools employed by NOAA to assess the condition and trends of national marine sanctuary resources. Condition reports provide a standardized summary of resources in NOAA’s sanctuaries; drivers and pressures on those resources; current conditions and trends for resources and ecosystem services; and describe existing management responses to the pressures that threaten the integrity of the marine environment.

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary

Sanctuary condition reports are tools employed by NOAA to assess the condition and trends of national marine sanctuary resources. Condition reports provide a standardized summary of resources in NOAA’s sanctuaries; drivers and pressures on those resources; current conditions and trends for resources and ecosystem services; and describe existing management responses to the pressures that threaten the integrity of the marine environment.

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Condition Report

Sanctuary condition reports are tools employed by NOAA to assess the condition and trends of national marine sanctuary resources. Condition reports provide a standardized summary of resources in NOAA’s sanctuaries; drivers and pressures on those resources; current conditions and trends for resources and ecosystem services; and describe existing management responses to the pressures that threaten the integrity of the marine environment.

Northern California Current Marine Biodiversity Observation Network

The goal of this project is to extend the observational framework of US MBON to the Pacific Northwest - a region that presents unique hydrological, ecological, and socio-economic interactions with marine biodiversity, but also has a long history of ocean observing.

Southern California Bight Marine Biodiversity Observation Network

This project will continue the demonstration MBON in the Santa Barbara Channel, and expand it to the entire Southern California Bight (SCB) region. The focus on SCB allows the team to cover the complete spectrum of biodiversity from ecosystems to microbes due to the profusion of existing biological monitoring and research programs by our partners including government agencies, universities and NGOs. 

Central California Marine Biodiversity Observation Network

This project will integrate remote sensing products, in situ data and models in support of long term needs of the NOAA California Current Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (CCIEA), Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and State of California. The goal is to quantify relationships between climate, the ocean environment (physics, chemistry) and marine food webs (from microbes to fish and top predators), with the aim of providing predictive understanding of marine ecosystem responses to environmental change.