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Weekly News: December 2006
December 2006

December 15, 2006
December 8, 2006
December 1, 2006


December 15, 2006


Managing the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument
Secretary of Commerce, Carlos M. Gutierrez; Secretary of the Interior, Dirk Kempthorne; and the Governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for managing and protecting the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) Marine National Monument. The MOA signing marks a new chapter in the joint management of the Monument, which was created on June 15, 2006, when President Bush signed a proclamation establishing the NWHI as the largest protected area in the United States. The MOA delineates the general terms, objectives, and responsibilities under which the Departments of Commerce and Interior and the State of Hawaii will manage and protect the NWHI. For more information, contact

Approval of New York Coastal Nonpoint Program
NOAA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have approved New York’s Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program. The Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program was established by Congress in 1990 to encourage better coordination between state coastal zone managers and water quality experts in order to reduce polluted runoff in coastal areas. Coastal states must develop programs to implement management measures to control runoff from forestry, agriculture, urban areas, marinas, shoreline and stream channel modification, and wetlands and riparian areas. New York is the 18th coastal state or territory to receive full approval under this program. For more information, contact

Marine Debris Removal in Right Whale Habitat
Preparations are underway to locate and remove marine debris in right whale critical habitat in Massachusetts. Right whales are found in and around Cape Cod Bay from January to at least April. Because whales are sometimes entangled in fishing gear, state and federal regulations prohibit setting fixed gear in critical habitat areas when whales are likely to be present. This project will locate and remove fishing gear that could entangle the whales. Massachusetts will team up with fishermen to haul gear that has been located by a survey team from the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies. For more information, contact



December 8, 2006


Reduced Estuarine Shrimp Levels Linked with Sediment Contamination
Scientists from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science recently reported the results of a study supporting the use of grass shrimp as key indicator species of human impacts in the coastal environment. Researchers based their conclusions on an investigation of the relationship between sediment-associated contaminant levels and effects on shrimp populations. Research at several contaminated sites in coastal South Carolina showed that as the overall level of sediment contamination increased, grass shrimp population densities decreased and grass shrimp size was reduced at some contaminated sites. The grass shrimp, an inhabitant of estuarine ecosystems, is an important prey species for commercially and recreationally important fish. For more information, contact

Ocean Etiquette Campaign Launched
The NOAA Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary launched a new ocean etiquette campaign this week focusing on the reduction of boater collisions with humpback whales. As part of the campaign, boaters may attend statewide workshops to learn how to safely and legally operate on the water during whale season. A brochure with guidelines and regulations for whale protection and human safety and an updated ocean user handbook are also available. This collaborative effort includes the National Marine Sanctuary Program, NOAA Fisheries, NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, and the Sanctuary Advisory Council. For more information, contact

Review of State Abandoned Vessel Programs and Regulations Completed
Using funds from the NOAA Coral Program, the Office of Response and Restoration’s (OR&R) Abandoned Vessel Program recently completed a review of state and territorial abandoned vessel programs and regulations. Although a pervasive problem in coastal areas, there are differences in how abandoned and derelict vessels are treated under state laws and there are no consistent national approaches to the problem. The report reviewed the programs, policies, legislation, and funding sources used by individual states and local governments to address abandoned vessels and to share those examples with other states and jurisdictions that are considering developing programs. This report and other information on the problem of abandoned and derelict vessels can be found on the OR&R Web site For more information, contact



December 1 , 2006


Tiny Tsunami Event Detected in Oregon
Instruments at South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) near Coos Bay, Oregon, detected the November 15 tsunami that was generated by a magnitude 8.3 earthquake near Russia's Kuril Islands—4,000 miles away. The water level rise of 3.5 inches at South Slough occurred at 11:30 a.m., shortly before low tide. The datalogger maintained by South Slough NERR measured the small rise and reverberations that took place over the next 12 hours throughout the estuary. The instrument is part of the national System-Wide Monitoring Program, which is coordinated by the NERR System. Another instrument in the area, maintained by NOAA’s National Water Level Observation Network, recorded similar data. For more information, contact

NOAA to Brief Chinese Delegation on Coastal Management
During the week of November 27, NOAA staff from the National Ocean Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service met to brief a 15-member delegation from China on coastal zone and fisheries management and the role of environmental impact assessment. The delegation represents members from Chinese government, research, and academic institutions. The visitors are broadly familiar with the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act and are interested in gaining a better understanding through examples of specific applications, particularly at the planning and project levels of how the two relate. For more information, contact

Coast Survey Investigates Area of East River
The Office of Coast Survey's Navigation Response Team 5 investigated an area just north of the Williamsburg Bridge in the East River (NY) for a possible submerged obstruction. On November 20, the Dorothy J, a tug drawing nine feet, allied with something underwater in charted depths of 25 feet. A safety broadcast was issued by the U.S. Coast Guard to mariners in the area, to prevent any further damage.  The Response team was called in to conduct a multibeam survey of the area. The team did not locate any hazards to navigation or abnormal depths at the accident site. Since the first survey did not reveal any obstructions, the Captain of the tug was invited to join the team this week to survey further down river in an attempt to locate the hazard. For more information, contact


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