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International Ocean Institute

NOS Participates in First Coastal Cities Summit


While the coasts make up only 17 percent of the nation's land, over 55 percent of Americans live on or near this land. Miami is one of many major coastal cities in the U.S.

National Ocean Service Assistant Administrator John H. Dunnigan addressed city leaders, scientists, researchers, and entrepreneurs Nov. 19 at the first-ever Coastal Cities Summit in St. Pete Beach, Fla.

The event was hosted by the International Ocean Institute (IOI), a non-governmental body with consultative status at the United Nations. St. Pete Beach, the Institute’s only location in the U.S., is one of 25 international IOI operational centers around the world.

At the three-day summit, Dunnigan discussed NOAA coastal management initiatives in the context of sobering challenges.

While coasts make up only 17 percent of our nation’s land, more than half of the American population lives in these regions. These areas not only face intense pressure from pollution and urbanization, the coasts are also increasingly threatened by hurricanes, flooding, and invasive species.

Dunnigan’s remarks emphasized how rapidly coastal areas are changing, stressing the need to stay ahead of the curve to keep the nation's coasts safe, healthy, and productive.

Over the past year, NOS members have been involved in a wide range of coastal projects to protect ocean and coastal areas:

  • NOS conducted research on increased occurrences of bacteria and disease in coastal areas and explored techniques to address the problem of coastal pollution.


    Marine debris along our coasts is a problem that NOAA and parter agencies are working hard to contain. Today, there is no place on Earth immune to this problem. This photo was taken in Hawaii, the remotest island chain on Earth.

  • The NOS Office of Response and Restoration responded to nearly 180 hazardous spill incidents, restoring damaged resources, and delivering the tools, information, and training needed to help coastal managers do their jobs better.

  • To better measure and monitor the effects of natural hazards on coastal areas and along the Gulf Coast, NOS installed four hurricane-hardened structures at sea to maintain essential water-level data collection during extreme coastal storm events.

  • NOS continued work with partner agencies to develop a robust national ocean monitoring system to better understand and forecast ocean and coastal changes such as sea-level rise and habitat loss.

  • The organization also funded research to predict both the larger-than-normal harmful algal bloom in the Gulf of Maine and the second largest “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico in the summer of 2008. These predictions helped local communities prepare for these events, reduce economic losses, protect human health, and overall serve as the scientific foundation for management efforts.