Resilient Coastal Communities
If you live near the coast, you aren’t alone – over half of all Americans call coastal areas home. And as more and more people flock to our coasts, communities in these areas become increasingly vulnerable to damages from hazards such as sea level rise or storms, habitat loss, and other threats that can negatively impact our economy and our quality of life. In fiscal year 2010, NOS was engaged in a range of activities to support healthy, resilient coastal communities.
- Resources Developed to Support Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning
To ensure the highest and best use of ocean resources, NOAA developed numerous products for governmental and private sector use. The Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning Website is at the forefront of this effort and contains the latest news, policy, data, resources, and tools. One of the most used tools is the Multipurpose Marine Cadastre, which lets users select an ocean location and gain immediate access to relevant data, visualizations, and information specific to that location. This tool was developed by a NOAA-led team that included other federal agencies. In addition, a NOAA-sponsored study, Marine Spatial Planning Stakeholder Analysis, provided insight on the future and current state of coastal and marine spatial planning in the U.S.
- Harmful Algal Bloom Forecast Helped Prepare Gulf of Maine Communities
In February, researchers with the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS)-funded Gulf of Maine Toxicity project issued an advisory for an unusually large bloom of toxic alga, Alexandrium, for later that spring. By June, concerned that recreational shellfish harvesters in some remote areas of the northern Maine coast might not receive red tide hot line messages or see beach postings, NCCOS and the state’s Department of Marine Resources worked with the National Weather Service to broadcast the first-ever NOAA Weather Radio warnings about high levels of toxins in shellfish. Although the algae pose no direct threat to human beings, toxins produced by this species can accumulate in filter-feeding organisms such as mussels and clams, which can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning in humans who consume them. In 2008, bed closures from Maine to Martha’s Vineyard caused an estimated $50 million in losses to the Massachusetts shellfish industry alone. Due to effective monitoring by state agencies, there have been no illnesses from legally harvested shellfish in recent years.
- New Program for Marine Sensors for Human and Marine Animal Health
In response to funding provided to support the Ocean Research Priorities Plan and Implementation Strategy, the Oceans and Human Health Initiative (OHHI) implemented a peer-reviewed competition for marine sensors to build capacity at the OHHI Centers, across NOAA, and externally to detect ocean- and coastal-related human and marine animal health threats. This is a high-priority need because the ability to rapidly and accurately monitor and assess threats such as biological effects of climate change that have human and marine organism health implications, lags far behind the capacity to detect physical changes in the ocean and atmosphere. The new program addresses research, tool and technology development, and engineering or testing of sensors (including in situ and biological sensors) for detection of ocean- or coastal-borne human and marine animal health threats from marine toxins, pathogens, and chemical contaminants.
- Coastal Zone Management Program Makes an Impact
In fiscal year 2010, the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) awarded $68.1 million to state and territory coastal zone management programs to implement their state coastal zone management programs. The National Coastal Zone Management Program (CZMP) is a partnership between OCRM and coastal states to protect and manage the nation’s coasts. The CZMP investment and OCRM expertise help states plan for climate change on their coasts, protect and restore coastal habitats, mitigate hazards, protect water quality, and enhance public access to coastal areas. In 2010, through this federal-state partnership, states established more than 200 new public recreational access sites to the coast, enhanced an additional 200 sites, restored nearly 20,000 acres of coastal habitat, and protected 4,500 coastal acres by acquisition or easement. There were also 1,100 public education activities reaching more than 200,000 people and more than 1,000 training and coordination events for nearly 28,000 participants.