May 9, 2013
By any measure, Travel and Tourism is one of the largest sectors of the U.S. economy. It supports more than 5 million jobs, with 2 million of those jobs tied directly to the resources of the oceans and Great Lakes. To promote National Travel and Tourism Week, a number of NOS program offices are highlighting how they support this important economic driver. For example, the NOAA Coastal Services Center provides economic data sets describing the value of the ocean tourism economy through its Economics: National Ocean Watch program. (That's where the statistic at the start of this paragraph originated.)
Almost every component of NOS supports tourism in some way. To name just a few: The Office of Coast Survey provides nautical charts to ensure recreational boater safety. The National Geodetic Survey helps the Federal Aviation Administration ensure safe air travel by overseeing airport surveys and providing aid to navigation. The Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services provides real-time water level monitoring that cruise ships need to move safely in and out of ports.
The Office of Response and Restoration helps reverse the impacts—whether from an oil spill, toxic chemicals, or marine debris—that damage aquatic habitats where visitors swim, boat, and fish. Research and forecasts developed by the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science help coastal communities counter the threat of harmful algal blooms, which can endanger beach goers, recreational shellfisheries, and coastal tourism industries. The U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing Program's partners in the Gulf of Mexico have launched interactive kiosks where visitors to the region's aquariums can learn first-hand about ocean observations.
At the same time, our National Marine Sanctuaries and National Estuarine Research Reserves protect valuable coastal resources while still allowing people to visit and appreciate these tourist destinations. These special places provide an opportunity for people to connect with rich natural and cultural treasures along our coasts. Each site is unique and provides a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities, as well as educational visitor centers, for people to enjoy. The reserves alone attract more than one-half million visitors every year.
All of this activity translates into economic benefits for our nation. For example, across all national marine sanctuaries, about $4 billion annually is generated in local coastal economies.
Holly A. Bamford, Ph.D.
National Ocean Service
We're counting down to June 8, World Ocean Day with 30 Days of Oceans! Join the countdown and help us share the message that together we can protect our ocean. You can find NOS on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, and Pinterest!
On June 21, 1860, the U.S. Coast Survey lost the steamer Robert J. Walker because of a collision at sea. Twenty crew members died. It was the largest loss of life experienced by NOAA or any of our predecessor organizations. On World Hydrography Day (June 21), NOAA will honor the crew members. What small memorial can we make to honor these men? Organizers of World Hydrography Day are asking NOAA employees and contractors to submit their ideas for a piece of art – a print, a plaque, a poem, or a small sculpture, for instance – that can be displayed on a wall or on a small table. More details, and the story of the Walker, are available on the NOS For Employees Website. For more information, contact Dawn Forsythe.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, NOAA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have rededicated their efforts to working together to help rebuild more resilient and sustainable coastal communities that can adapt to and better mitigate the impacts of coastal hazards and severe weather events. While working on post Sandy recovery efforts in the New Jersey and New York region, NOAA and USACE jointly developed a set of Infrastructure Systems Rebuilding Principles to promote a unified strategy for our activities in restoring the coast. For details on these principles, visit the OCRM website. For more information, contact Kate Barba.
A new map provided by the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) shows how GPS orthometric (heights above mean sea level) height accuracies vary across the United States and facilitates collaboration to improve height accuracies in the future. The map reveals data gaps in the current model, which translates raw GPS heights into orthometric heights aligned with the official vertical datum. A DSWORLD-software connection to Google Earth allows users to explore the map and overlay non-GPSed vertical bench marks, as well as provide opportunities to contribute new GPS data and improve future models. By alerting users to localized weaknesses in the current model and highlighting locations where their collaboration efforts would yield the greatest benefit, this map helps improve the use of GPS for measuring heights (critical for flood maps, coastal inundation modeling, navigation, and transportation). For more information, contact Joe Evjen.
After more than two years of negotiations, the State of Maryland and the Department of Defense (DOD) reached agreement on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and De Minimis List of Activities for how the State's enforceable policies under the Coastal Zone Management Act will be applied to DOD properties and activities. The MOU is the first of its kind nationally, providing a framework for more efficient decision-making and improved coordination between the parties on federal actions having coastal effects in Maryland. Assistance from the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management throughout the negotiations was instrumental to the parties in reaching agreement. For more information, contact John Kuriawa or Kerry Kehoe.
The old adage "what goes around comes around" was proven once again through the Coastal Management Fellowship Program. The fellowship was established in 1996 to groom the coastal management professional of tomorrow and provide assistance to state coastal management programs. A matching workshop is held each year to match the postgraduate students with the state-proposed projects. This year, two of the participating states were represented by former fellows. The 2013-15 class of fellows will work on projects that address climate change adaptation, shoreline protection, and ocean planning in California, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Oregon. For more information, contact Margaret Allen.
Last week, representatives of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's Environmental Studies Program (BOEM ESP) presented examples of collaborations with NOAA and other federal agencies during the NOS Seminar Series. As one of the most attended seminars, it highlighted two recent projects with the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) – spatial statistical models of seabirds that helped inform wind energy planning in the Mid-Atlantic, and ecosystem monitoring efforts at the Flower Gardens Banks National Marine Sanctuary. The NCCOS products highlighted are the first to be delivered to BOEM under the NOAA/BOEM Memorandum of Understanding. The BOEM ESP conducts science to guide decisions on leasing the 1.7 billion acres of the Outer Continental Shelf for energy development. For more information, contact Chris Caldow.
Last week, the Northeast Region Stranding (NERS) Network, comprised of organizations authorized by NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service Northeast Regional Office to provide marine mammal and sea turtle response from Maine to Virginia, held its annual conference in Riverhead, N.Y. A training workshop featured at the conference focused on facilitating and preparing for emergency response to an oil spill or natural disaster. During this workshop, the OR&R Scientific Support Coordinator presented background information on NOAA's role in emergency response and focused on OR&R's Emergency Response Division and Scientific Support Coordinator role as liaison with the Coast Guard. The oil spill response workshop, done in concert with the U.S. Coast Guard, sought to clarify the relationship of the NERS with the Incident Command System. It focused on the operational aspects of on-water marine mammal recovery and rehabilitation. For more information, contact Ed Levine.
In late 2012, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (OCNMS) made changes to the data source and process for monitoring vessels traveling through the nearby, offshore Area to be Avoided (ATBA). This area, located off the coast of Washington, was designated in 1995 to reduce the risk of marine casualties including oil spills, and the resulting environmental damage to OCNMS. OCNMS, in cooperation with the U.S. and Canadian coast guards, monitors vessel compliance under this voluntary program. The sanctuary now uses data from vessels' Automatic Identification System transceivers received by satellite (S-AIS) allowing for broader spatial coverage and has reduced the tonnage requirements for vessels traveling through the ATBA. These changes will result in variations in compliance reporting for 2012. For more information, contact George Galasso.