November 21, 2013
Fifteen years ago, most voters in the area near the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary opposed its designation. Many were skeptical of a federally-managed marine protected area in state waters. Today, many of those former critics are vocal supporters of an eight-fold expansion of the sanctuary.
Engaging the local community was the foundation of the sanctuary's success. Members of the community representing diverse interests had an influential voice through participation in the Sanctuary Advisory Council. In 2005, the sanctuary opened a new heritage center in Alpena, Mich., that hosts thousands of visitors per year. The success of the center has made it a focal point of Alpena's outreach.
Conserving places like sanctuaries and other marine protected areas (MPAs) provides lasting cultural and economic value to communities and to the country. This is exactly the kind of thing we mean when we talk about the NOS priority of place-based conservation.
You can learn more about MPAs and their value in the new publication, "Marine Protected Areas of the United States: Conserving Our Oceans, One Place at a Time." The National Marine Protected Areas Center, part of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, published this guide, which does an excellent job of telling the story of MPAs.
Holly A. Bamford, Ph.D.
National Ocean Service
Curious about how (and why) scientists forecast harmful algal blooms? Tune into our latest Diving Deeper episode as we talk with Allison Allen about HAB forecasting.
The Office of Coast Survey (OCS) supported efforts to clear a navigational hazard from the Mississippi River last week, after a barge sank in the river south of Baton Rouge, La. Since the specific location of the wreck was unknown, shipping was halted until a clear path for navigation could be assured. With the closest NOAA survey vessel working states away and unable to immediately respond, an OCS navigation manager consulted with the U.S. Coast Guard and a private survey company, to help plan the surveys conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers and their team. The barge was located, and traffic was reopened to deep draft ships as plans were made to raise the wreck. To ensure that removal operations avoided underwater pipeline crossings, an OCS cartographer plotted the wreck position and provided the NOAA nautical chart with locations indicated. For more information, contact Tim Osborn.
This month, representatives from the 11 regions of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®), the National Federation of Regional Associations, NOAA, and academia, met on the campus of Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif., for the annual IOOS Regional Workshop. This year's agenda featured discussions with NOS Assistant Administrator Holly Bamford and new Scripps Director Margaret Leinen. It covered a wide range of priority topics, including regional certification, common products, and four joint planning topics for the IOOS program and regions to collaborate on in FY14. The agenda also included a collaborative discussion with NOAA Fisheries at the new Southwest Fisheries Science Center facility. For more information, contact Jennie Lyons.
The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) are funding a project to help the Sitka Tribe of Alaska and other communities in southeast Alaska establish a harmful algal bloom (HAB) monitoring program for recreational and subsistence shellfisheries. In October, two cases of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) were reported by the state and prompted the closure of most southeast Alaska commercial shellfishery areas since the opening of the fall fishery. However, recreational and subsistence shellfishers in the region continue to get sick from PSP exposure in non-tested areas outside the commercial zone. The NCCOS project will support a workshop for state and tribal resource and public health managers, where researchers from NOAA, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and a contractor will provide expert guidance on running a HAB monitoring program, hands-on training on HAB cell identification, and advice on toxin detection methods. Support for NOAA participants will be provided by the Sitka Tribe of Alaska. For more information, contact Marc Suddleson.
On November 19, the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) hosted a webinar on how to acquire accurate heights in western states. Participants from federal and local governments, universities, and private industry learned about NGS' National Height Modernization Program initiative to establish accurate, reliable elevations using Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technology in conjunction with traditional leveling, gravity, and modern remote sensing information. NGS presented its plans for a new vertical reference frame and familiarized participants with the products and tools it provides to the public. Participants discussed how other states and agencies are implementing height modernization and the challenges involved in obtaining accurate elevation information in western states, such as tectonic motion and localized subsidence. For more information, contact Christine Gallagher.
On Nov. 15, NOAA's National Marine Protected Areas Center issued a new report on the state of marine protected areas in the United States titled, "Marine Protected Areas of the United States: Conserving Our Oceans, One Place at a Time." The report provides a detailed snapshot of the coverage, level of protection, resources protected, and ecological representativeness of MPAs in U.S. waters. It also features brief case studies in MPA management from around the country, including NOAA's Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. For the first time, the report summarizes data on U.S. MPAs specifically protected for their natural heritage—ecosystems, biodiversity, habitats, and species—as well as for their cultural resources and values. This focus on natural and cultural heritage MPAs provides greater comparability with the accepted international definition of MPAs established by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. For more information, contact Lauren Wenzel.
In early November, Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) staff attended the Community Oil Spill Response in Bering and Anadyr Straits workshop held in Anchorage, Alaska. The Wildlife Conservation Society hosted the workshop which included representatives from state and federal agencies, borough governments, industry, academia, oil spill response organizations, and Alaska Native Tribes and organizations. Local stakeholders, many of them Alaska Native subsistence hunters from northwest Alaska, described how the increase in maritime traffic is threatening their shorelines and subsistence resources. Formal presentations and discussion topics included community and regional perspectives on local interest and capacity to address small and large spills. Emphasis was on the growing threats, as well as oceanographic connections between Bering and Chukchi seas, connections and coordination with Russia, and concerns regarding health, safety, and food security of these communities. State and federal efforts to involve communities in both current and future response contingency plans were discussed. For more information, contact John Whitney.
Two-dimensional maps sometimes give map users the mistaken impression that ocean data sets apply to and cover the ocean surface. The MarineCadastre.gov project team is using visualizations that help ocean planners and managers better understand that ocean data spans multiple dimensions. The project team, consisting of the NOAA Coastal Services Center and the Department of the Interior Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, uses the visualizations to explain that ocean data applies to the ocean floor, water column, water surface, and air column. Some data may include the fourth dimension, time. The Ocean Dimensions animation and the Crowded Ocean Spaces: A 3D View visualization help convey the dimensionality of ocean data and compatibilities of ocean uses. For more information, contact Jodie Sprayberry.