This month, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council voted to protect from bottom fishing more than 38,000 square miles of seafloor stretching from New York to Virginia. In square miles, this deep-sea coral habitat is larger than the states of Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey combined. If approved by NOAA, this will be the largest single area in the continental U.S. protected from bottom fishing.
Scientists from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) provided information that allowed the various stakeholders—from conservation NGOs to the fishing industry—to achieve consensus on boundaries that protect deep-sea corals and minimize potential impacts to fisheries.
NCCOS scientists produced statistical models of deep-sea coral habitat suitability; conducted seafloor topographic analyses; developed a database of deep-sea locations where corals are historically present; and guided an integrated field mission to validate models and survey new coral habitats. In addition, the Council invited the scientists to take part in a two-day workshop that included representatives from conservation and fishing interests. As the stakeholders discussed specific boundary considerations, scientists helped the group interpret and digest research results into scientific guidance in real time. You can learn more about the project here. This is a great example of our science informing decision making!
W. Russell Callender, Ph.D.
Acting Assistant Administrator
Ocean Services and Coastal Zone Management,
National Ocean Service
Check out this compilation of fascinating facts to test your sea turtle knowledge. Shown here: Loggerhead turtle hatchlings make their way to the sea in Juno Beach, Florida. Image courtesy of Veronica Runge.
On World Hydrography Day (June 21), NOAA honored 21 lost crew members of the U.S. Coast Survey Steamer Robert J. Walker—which sank 155 years ago to the day—by dedicating a memorial at the historic Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Dr. James P. Delgado, ONMS director of maritime heritage and co-director of the 2014 Robert J. Walker Mapping Project, offered remarks at the ceremony. OCS Director Rear Admiral Gerd Glang dedicated the memorial. A historic hydrographer’s bell rang as the names of the lost crew members were read aloud. The memorial includes a NOAA commemorative geodetic marker, a granite compass rose, and a plaque listing the lost crew members. On June 21, 1860, a commercial schooner hit the Robert J. Walker as it transited from Norfolk to New York. When the steamer sank 12 miles offshore of Absecon Lighthouse, the event was the largest single loss of life in Coast Survey and NOAA history.
On June 22, ONMS released a report titled “The Economic Impact of the Recreational Fisheries on Local County Economies in California National Marine Sanctuaries, 2010, 2011 and 2012.” A press release announced the report, highlighting the positive effects and economic value of recreational fishing in the four California sanctuaries—Channel Islands, Greater Farallones, Cordell Bank, and Monterey Bay. Approximately 13.4 percent of all saltwater recreational fishing in California from 2010 to 2012 took place in national marine sanctuaries. Anglers spent approximately $156 million on saltwater recreational fishing in the California sanctuaries, which generated more than $200 million in annual economic output and supported nearly 1,400 jobs. Socioeconomic fact sheets for other national marine sanctuaries are available online.
The week of June 8, NOAA’s Marine Debris Program co-hosted the Great Lakes Marine Debris Educators Workshop in partnership with Ohio Sea Grant. Educators from across the Great Lakes trawled Lake Erie for plastics, conducted marine debris cleanups, dissected fish, and participated in other lessons and activities related to marine debris. The workshop gave educators first-hand knowledge of the potential impacts of marine debris on local habitat and wildlife. By pairing science-based activities with lessons and games focused on action and prevention, the participants learned to share information about marine debris with their peers and students. In the Great Lakes region, the Marine Debris Program provides technical expertise on marine debris projects, assesses regional needs, works with state and local agencies to develop and implement prevention strategies and action plans, and acts as a hub of information for coastal managers, nonprofits, and other groups interested in addressing this important issue.
A seamless map service covering shipping lanes and regulations is now being published by OCS. The service is updated on a weekly basis and saves users time and effort by integrating data from multiple scales of nautical charts into one layer. OCM and OCS worked together to publish the data and the service, which are available through MarineCadastre.gov. The map service is being integrated into regional marine planning portals and state data clearinghouses, ensuring that multiple users access the data set. Authoritative shipping lane data is critical for maritime transportation and for understanding potential use conflicts in marine planning.
From June 22 to July 2, NGS is providing updates on upcoming changes in geodetic reference frames (slated for 2022), its Gravity for the Redefinition of the American Vertical Datum (GRAV-D) project, and the agency’s use of geoid studies to determine heights above sea level at the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) Assembly in Prague, Czech Republic. The IUGG advances knowledge of Earth systems and processes through international constituent associations specializing in geodesy, meteorology, atmospheric sciences, and ocean physical sciences. The assembly meets once every four years and brings together more than 6,000 geoscientists from all corners of the globe.
June 21 was the summer solstice and the longest day of the year. It was also the day that thousands of scientists and volunteers across the globe participated in Ocean Sampling Day, an international collaboration to collect water samples from the Earth’s oceans and rivers. Staff from NOAA’s Cooperative Oxford Laboratory in Oxford, Maryland, participated in this year’s sampling. The purpose of Ocean Sampling Day is to collect baseline information on the diversity of marine microorganisms (also called microbes) so that changes in ocean ecosystems can be detected by comparing samples from the same locations over time.
NOS Acting Assistant Administrator
Dr. Russell Callender
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