The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) provides the national policy leadership, science, and expertise needed to maintain our Nation’s coastal resources. OCRM administers the Coastal Zone Management Act and assists states in managing the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, provides science and information for the management of the nation’s system of marine protected areas, and supports effective management and sound science to protect coral reef ecosystems.
OCRM highlights from fiscal year 2010 include:
- Climate Change Adaptation Guide for State Coastal Managers Released
OCRM released “Adapting to Climate Change: A Planning Guide for State Coastal Managers.” The guide is designed to help state coastal managers and communities develop and implement adaptation plans to reduce the risks associated with climate change impacts. The guide was written in response to state coastal managers’ requests for NOAA guidance on adaptation planning.
- Conservation Program Protects More than 20,000 Acres
The Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) worked closely with state commonwealth and local partners to help them protect nearly 20,000 acres of high priority coastal land. Approximately 20 CELCP-funded properties selected in previous years, were, or are soon anticipated to be, acquired or put under easement in fiscal year 2010, protecting critical coastal habitat in 15 coastal states.
In addition, 15 new projects totaling over $23 million were selected for funding through CELCP and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Criteria for selection include a project’s contribution to ecological conservation, recreational opportunities, aesthetic and historical significance, and technical and scientific merit. These new awards will help protect coastal watersheds in California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Washington, and Wisconsin. The 2010 CELCP projects contribute to more than 50,000 acres protected since the program began in 2002.
- New Online Library Helps Pacific Islands Address Climate Change
The Pacific Islands Climate Change Virtual Library, a new online public library with climate adaptation information specific to the Pacific Islands, launched in March. The interactive site helps coastal managers incorporate climate information and tools into decision making to improve the resilience of their communities to climate change impacts. The library includes information on how to assess vulnerability, adapt to climate variability and change, and map and model climate impacts in the Pacific. Users can share information on conferences and workshops, funding opportunities, lessons learned, and even have online discussions. The site was developed by NOAA’s Central Library, OCRM, the NOAA Coastal Services Center, and the Pacific Services Center, in cooperation with the National Oceanographic Data Center, Pacific Climate Information System, coastal managers in American Samoa and Samoa, International Pacific Research Center's Asia Pacific Data Research Center at University of Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, Pacific Islands Global Climate Observing System Program, and other partners in the Pacific Islands.
- MPA Center Launches Interactive Mapping Tool
The National Marine Protected Areas Center launched a new interactive online mapping tool that, for the first time, allows users to view boundaries and access data for more than 1,000 marine protected areas (MPAs) in the United States. The tool provides a user-friendly online interface to explore MPA information that was previously limited to expert geographic information system users and has simple functions to visualize MPA boundaries, review MPA classification information, and explore all MPAs in a given location. Users can filter information about sites, such as showing only sites that prohibit commercial fishing.
- Wisconsin Reserve to Join NERRS
OCRM has been working with the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension, and local partners for several years to bring the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve into the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS). By November 2010, the Wisconsin Reserve will become the NERRS’ 28th member and the second reserve in the Great Lakes region. Located on the St. Louis River near Lake Superior, the proposed reserve’s 16,697 acres include wetlands, sandy beaches, and mature forests.
- Leading the Way on Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion
OCRM, which has licensing authority over ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) projects, co-sponsored two workshops, in Hawaii and New Hampshire, to assess the technical readiness of a commercial OTEC facility and the physical, chemical, and biological impacts and risks from an OTEC facility. OTEC uses the temperature differential between the deep cold and relatively warmer surface waters of the ocean to generate electricity using the same principles as a heat pump. The workshops provided insight into the outstanding questions about the readiness, challenges, and environmental impacts of OTEC. The workshop information will help inform OCRM as it develops new OTEC licensing regulations and makes OTEC licensing decisions, and be an important resource for other governmental decision makers and the OTEC community.
- OCRM Holds Successful Federal Consistency Workshops Around the Coasts
OCRM held six workshops around the country and in the Pacific on the Coastal Zone Management Act federal consistency provision. More than 300 people from federal, state, local and tribal agencies, and private consultants attended the workshops, held in the Northwest, Great Lakes, Southeast, and Pacific Islands. The Federal Consistency Workshops provide a basic understanding of federal consistency; discuss recent problem areas; and help states and federal agencies implement their programs by educating personnel on the consistency requirements, learning about each other’s programs, and establishing productive working relationships.
- NOS and Pacific Northwest Leaders Meet on Coastal Issues
To help strengthen the NOAA-state coastal partnership in the Pacific Northwest, NOS Acting Assistant Administrator David Kennedy and OCRM Acting Director Donna Wieting visited Oregon and Washington to discuss national and state coastal issues with state leadership. They met with Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski and state marine cabinet agency leads as well as with Washington Governor Christine Gregoire’s staff, state Senator Kevin Ranker, and Washington coastal and marine agency leads. They discussed current and emerging coastal projects, state priorities, NOAA’s coastal priorities and initiatives, and NOS resources that support the states. The groups also explored ways to strengthen the federal-state coastal partnership and other relationships.
NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program
- NOAA Expands its Reef Conservation Efforts in the Coral Triangle
Recognized as the global center of marine biological diversity, the Coral Triangle is a geographic area encompassing almost six million square kilometers (2.3 million square miles) of ocean and coastal waters in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific. The U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Department of State are supporting the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security with a $40 million, five-year program implemented by NOAA, a consortium of nongovernmental organizations, and a Program Integrator. Collectively, this team is called the United States Coral Triangle Initiative Support Team (US CTI). February 2010 marked a significant milestone in the US CTI, when, after nearly two years of planning, the consolidated work plan for the US CTI Support Program was finalized, marking the official launch of the program. NOAA serves as the U.S. government agency providing scientific and management capacity and technical assistance to the six Coral Triangle countries and the Coral Reef Conservation Program coordinates NOAA’s involvement.
In addition, NOAA and a team of international partners worked to conduct a rapid response assessment of a significant coral bleaching event that occurred in the Coral Triangle in early summer of 2010. Project activities included an ecological assessment, diver surveys, and a socioeconomic impact study to determine the economic, social, and ecological impacts of the coral bleaching event.
- NOAA Delivers 2007-2009 Coral Program Report to Congress
On April 12, NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program delivered the Implementation of the National Coral Reef Action Strategy: Report on NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program Activities from 2007 to 2009 to Congress. It is the third of the biennial progress reports to Congress required by the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000. The report provides summaries and examples of the activities conducted by the CRCP and its extramural partners between 2007 and 2009 to implement the thirteen goals addressed in the National Coral Reef Action Strategy.
During the period covered by this report, the CRCP operated pursuant to thirteen program goals organized under two themes: Understanding Coral Reef Ecosystems and Reducing the Adverse Impacts of Human Activities. The report presents activities undertaken for each of these goals, including mapping, assessment, monitoring, partnerships, socioeconomic research, and restoration, among others. The report also describes the Program's reorganization to better target its efforts to understand and address the three major threats to reefs – impacts from climate change, fishing, and land-based sources of pollution.