Place-based conservation really hit home for me last week when I had the opportunity to visit the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. I was in Florida to participate in the Reserve's State of the Coast meeting with federal, state, and local officials to discuss the latest coastal science and management issues.
President's Day marked a special announcement for the National Geodetic Survey (NGS). On Monday, NGS announced the results of a height measurement study of the Washington Monument. Using new international measurement standards and technology not available in the past, NGS calculated the official architectural height of the Washington Monument to be 554 feet 711⁄32 inches.
With 90 percent of the country's consumer goods coming through maritime ports and nearly 40 percent of society living in coastal shoreline counties, America is without a doubt a coastal nation. Given the country's ever-changing environmental, societal and economic challenges, our top priority is to make sure the National Ocean Service's (NOS) science, service, and stewardship efforts stay ahead of the storm to protect, respond, and recover life and property.
I am delighted to announce that NOAA’s Coastal Services Center and the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management have joined forces to become the Office for Coastal Management. The new organizational structure will bring value-added services to taxpayers. The emphasis is on partnerships, as the office works to administer the Coastal Zone Management Act and the Coral Reef Conservation Act; provide products and services to the coastal management community; and bring new partners and sectors together to address coastal management issues. The alignment of these two organizations is designed to bring a new energy and focus to the business of coastal resource management through a strong regional presence coupled with refined programmatic functions.
What successful coastal management program protects more than 1.3 million acres? The National Estuarine Research Reserves, featuring 28 sites across the country! And this week is National Estuaries Week. Healthy estuaries provide a wide range of benefits to coastal communities and ecosystems. These special places, where rivers meet the sea. serve as natural filters for runoff, critical habitats for commercial and recreational species, storage facilities for excessive flood waters, important centers for transportation, and fun places for millions of people to boat, swim, fish, kayak, and more. When devising ways for coastal communities to become more resilient, keeping estuaries healthy ranks near the top of almost every list. I’m proud of the outstanding work carried out in support of National Estuarine Research Reserves.
Did you know that all Americans can now nominate nationally significant marine and Great Lakes areas as potential new national marine sanctuaries? This new process, rolled out earlier this year, will not result in the automatic designation of any new national marine sanctuaries. However, the nomination process will result in an inventory of areas NOAA will consider for national marine sanctuary designation, taking into account input and support from various local, regional and national interests and organizations. Consideration also will be based on a proposed area’s national significance and the feasibility of managing it.
Today, I join NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan; Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services Director Rich Edwing; leaders from the Jacksonville Marine Transportation Exchange; and other local and state officials at the dedication of the newest Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System, or PORTS®. The new Jacksonville PORTS®, second largest ever established in the system, includes a broad suite of operational sensors with water level, meteorological, visibility, salinity, air gap (under bridge clearance), and tidal currents.
Each year, marine professionals, government officials, and ocean enthusiasts meet for Capitol Hill Ocean Week. The three-day symposium hosted by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation brings together hundreds of policymakers, industry leaders, scientists, academics and conservationists to shape marine policy and provoke conversation about critical ocean and coastal issues.
On May 22, NOAA introduced an experimental Potential Storm Surge Flooding Map which incorporates NOS mapping and ocean data. The product will be used for the first time during the 2014 season to better communicate to the public the risk of injury and damage from storm-related flooding.
Conserving coastal places provides economic benefits to local communities. For example, across all national marine sanctuaries, about $4 billion annually is generated in local coastal and ocean-dependent economies from diverse activities like commercial fishing, research, and recreation-tourist activities.
National Ocean Service Acting Assistant Administrator Dr. Russell Callender.