First, I’d like to recognize the outstanding efforts of NOS staff for their preparation for and response to this week’s New England blizzard. At the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, initial assessments indicate minimal impacts to NOS property, and staff in the impacted area have begun to return to work. In addition, the National Geodetic Survey’s Remote Sensing Division began collecting imagery along affected areas that FEMA will use for its response activities. My thanks go out to all involved in these efforts.
Next, I’d like to recognize individuals and groups recently named as winners of the Walter B. Jones Awards. In 1990, as part of the reauthorization of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), the late Congressman Walter B. Jones provided NOAA with the authority to honor people and organizations for their contributions in helping the nation maintain healthy coastal and ocean resources and balance the needs of these resources with human use. These awards recognize individuals and local governments for their dedication to promoting coastal resilience.
Coastal Steward of the Year honors an individual who has exemplified strong, sustained leadership in finding a balance between human uses of the coast and ocean and the needs of the environment.
Excellence in Local Government is given to local governments that have inspired positive change in the field of coastal management by developing or implementing principles embodied by the CZMA.
Excellence in Coastal and Marine Graduate Study recognizes graduate students whose academic study promises to contribute materially to the development of new or improved approaches to coastal or ocean management.
Congratulations to this year’s awardees! You can learn more about their accomplishments here.
W. Russell Callender, Ph.D.
Acting Assistant Administrator
Ocean Services and Coastal Zone Management,
National Ocean Service
The platypus is a mammal that lays eggs and has sharp stingers on the heels of its hind feet. Learn more here.
Earlier this month, two Coast Survey cartographers joined the Florida navigation manager at the Florida Artificial Reef Summit to meet the regional artificial reef community in person, and to explain the nautical charting aspect of planning, creating, and maintaining fish havens. By explaining the processes, protocols, and NOAA charting requirements related to the charting of fish havens, OCS hopes to smooth out the permitting and charting phases to meet both ecological and navigational needs. NOAA cartographers are responsible for vetting artificial reef public notices and permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and for acquiring source data from the state and county coordinators before putting any fish havens or artificial reefs onto nautical charts.
From Jan. 21-25, the Thunder Bay International Film Festival brought the world of cinema to northeast Michigan. Hosted by Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and friends, the festival drew more than 700 visitors and locals to watch ocean- and Great Lakes-inspired films in Alpena, home of the sanctuary’s headquarters. Film topics included climate change, Great Lakes issues, marine life, and plastic pollution. The festival kicked off with an opening reception in honor of the recently expanded sanctuary boundaries in Rogers City, Michigan, with the rest of the week’s events taking place at NOAA’s Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center and at several Alpena businesses that sponsored the event. More than 30 volunteers helped the sanctuary host eight screenings, a film workshop, and complimentary social events during the course of the festival.
A recently released white paper assesses the status of several empirical and deterministic models capable of characterizing Gulf hypoxia, also known as the Gulf dead zone. “Modeling Approaches for Scenario Forecasts for Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia” presents conclusions from the 2013 joint NOAA and Northern Gulf Institute Forum for the Gulf of Mexico Research and Coordination and Advancement. Based on modeler presentations and forum discussions from this panel, the paper concludes that several empirically based models are ready for transition to operational use in scenario forecasts of nutrient reduction goals required for hypoxia mitigation. Conversely, deterministic modeling efforts were considered to have made considerable recent advancements, but are not fully ready for use in an operational environment for scenario-based hypoxia forecasts.
The West Coast Ocean Summit, recently held in Portland, Oregon, brought together tribal and government representatives from Washington, Oregon, and California to discuss shared regional ocean and coastal priorities as well as potential regional collaboration opportunities. Over 30 tribes, 16 state agencies, and 15 federal agencies were represented. The summit was a historic opportunity for representatives to enhance communication and determine effective collaborative approaches for long-term coordination on ocean and coastal issues. At the summit’s conclusion, attendees agreed to establish a new, broader West Coast ocean partnership to identify and address ocean priorities. Over the next year, the group will continue to formally establish the new partnership, seek funding support, and develop an initial strategic plan.
Commercial fishermen recently spent three days removing "ghost pots" from North Carolina's waters as part of a two-year grant from the Marine Debris Program (MDP) to clean up crab pots and repurpose them into oyster reefs. According to the MDP's Mid-Atlantic regional coordinator, the cleanup haul is expected to exceed last year's removal numbers. North Carolina Coastal Federation, the group leading the project, hired 24 fishermen to remove ghost pots from waters in the Outer Banks when the crab fishery is closed for the winter. Last year, the group removed 201 pots and dipped them in concrete to prepare them for reuse. Now that the second cleanup has concluded, the Coastal Federation will encase the second haul in concrete along with the first to create approximately 300 feet of artificial reef. The project will conclude this summer.
From Jan. 26-27, NGS Director Juliana Blackwell chaired the semi-annual meeting of the Federal Geodetic Control Subcommittee (FGCS) in Silver Spring. Representatives from across the federal government participated. Changes to the input formats and specifications of the NGS database were discussed, as well as plans for the upcoming April Geospatial Summit and FGCS meeting to be held in association with the National Surveying, Mapping, and Geospatial Conference. The FGCS, an interagency subcommittee of the Federal Geographic Data Committee, promotes the coordinated development, use, sharing, and dissemination of national geodetic data. The subcommittee exercises governmentwide leadership in coordinating the planning and execution of geodetic surveys, in developing standards and specifications for these surveys, and in the exchange of geodetic survey data and technical information.
NOS Acting Assistant Administrator
Dr. Russell Callender
Happiness can truly be found in the mind...something that Erica Seiden knows and practices in her daily life. Learn how you can find it, too, in this week's feature.
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