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Long-term Priorities

The mission of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) RESTORE Science Program is to carry out research, observation, and monitoring to support, to the maximum extent practicable, the long-term sustainability of the ecosystem, fish stocks, fish habitat, and the recreational, commercial, and charter-fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico.

NOAA was authorized to establish and administer the Science Program, in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, by the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies (RESTORE) of the Gulf States Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-141, Section 1604). Identified in the RESTORE Act as the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Science, Observation, Monitoring, and Technology Program, the Science Program is commonly known as the NOAA RESTORE Science Program.

The Science Program’s goal, outcomes, and long-term priorities are captured in the Program’s Science Plan.

The Program’s long-term priorities for the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem are:

Steps Used to Identify Long-Term Priorities

Using the legislative requirements for the NOAA RESTORE Science Program as the boundaries for determining long-term priorities, the Science Program reviewed numerous science needs assessments prepared for the Gulf of Mexico over the past several years. The Program then consolidated common priorities from among all the assessments. The Program also hosted engagement events and held extensive meetings with stakeholders, including representatives from the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, universities, federal and state agencies, and non-governmental organizations, to gather additional input which was incorporated into the priority identification process. The priorities were then further refined by their connection to an identified management or restoration need, linkage to the Science Program’s mission and goal, and whether or not the priority duplicated a priority from another Gulf of Mexico program. This process resulted in a set of long-term priorities which are linked to identified management and restoration needs and anticipated outcomes consistent with the scope of the program.

To learn more about the Science Program’s first six years (2013-2018), review the Science Program’s first Program Report.

In November 2021, the Science Program underwent a Program Review with a panel of external reviewers. For more information, take a look at the Program Review Summary, as well as presentations from Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 of the review.  Responses to the Review Panel’s findings and recommendations can be found here

For additional information on the Science Program see our program factsheet and frequently asked questions (FAQs).