Vietnam's Ha Long Bay, named a World Heritage Site in 1994, boasts some 1,600 islands and is home to artisinal fisheries as well as a booming tourism industry. IPO's partnership with Vietnam has helped build an integrated framework from which to manage Vietnam's special coastal resources.
NOAAs National Ocean Service (NOS) participates in many programs, activities and partnerships that involve the greater international coastal science and management community. Although collaboration with international colleagues occurs in several NOS programs, the NOS International Program Office (IPO) leads most of these efforts. IPO was established to serve as the focal point for NOS-wide international activities and to coordinate with national and foreign government agencies, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and others.
In the international arena, NOS focuses on integrated coastal management; marine protected area (MPA) management; mitigating impacts from climate change; safe, efficient, and environmentally sound maritime navigation; reducing impacts from natural disasters; and capacity-building. NOS participates in numerous international conferences. This year, it will attend the International Coral Reef Symposium (Okinawa, Japan, June 2004) and the Small Islands Developing States (Mauritius, August 2004).
IPO advances NOS work on MPAs internationally through its partnerships with governments, NGOs, foundations, and MPA networks. In its role as Vice-Chair (Marine) of the World Conservation Unions (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas, IPO leads the WCPA-Marine program, which focuses on the following areas:
NOS's Management Effectiveness Initiative has developed guidelines for MPA managers to assess effectiveness in accomplishing their goals. This reef off the coast of Belize is within an MPA chosen as one of the pilot sites in which the guidelines were tested.
NOS is also engaged with foreign governments in bilateral work to foster better management of coastal resources through integrated coastal management. IPO has continued work with China, Korea, Vietnam, Japan, South Africa, and others in the exchange and development of ideas, information, skills, research, and techniques critical to successful coastal management.
NOS also is contributing its coastal management expertise to Caribbean nations in support of an effort to mitigate the impacts of climate change. This project will address adaptation to climate change in national development planning and work to protect coastal resources that are coming under increased pressure from climate change as well as from tourism and other impacts. Also within the Caribbean, NOS/IPO is serving as a regional "node" for implementing the UN's Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities. In this capacity, NOS is developing watershed and integrated coastal management plans to mitigate land-based coastal pollution in Caribbean States.
NOS's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science collaborate with many international partners as well. A monitoring strategy developed by an NOS scientist in reaction to U.S. Pfiesteria outbreaks is being adapted to respond to Pfiesteria in Australia. Other NOS scientists joined scientists from the Shirshov Institute of Oceanography at Moscow University and the Utrish Center for Marine Biotechnology and Aquaculture to sample the entire Russian coastline of the Black Sea for a harmful algal bloom species known to cause diarrheic shellfish poisoning.
Scientists from Petrobras, Brazil's largest energy company, are meeting with NOS scientists to learn more about the procedures and methodologies of NOSs Mussel Watch Project, part of the National Status and Trends (NS&T) Program for marine environmental quality. Frances environmental agency, IFREMER (Institute Français de Recherche pour lExploitation de la Mer) continues a multiple-year partnership with NS&T to monitor and compare chemical concentrations in the two nations coastal waters.
NOS's sustainable fisheries initiative will link MPAs and fisheries programs in regional networks focused on no-take marine reserves, as in these waters of Southern Thailand.
NOS's Office of Response and Restoration responds selectively to spills of oil and hazardous materials worldwide.
NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program supports effective management and sound science to preserve, sustain, and restore valuable coral reef ecosystems. The program leads the agencys efforts in NOAAs Coral Reef Information System (CoRIS), which provides a single point of access to NOAA coral reef information and data products. NOS participates in partnerships such as the International Coral Grants Program, which supports international reef research and management efforts, and leads efforts under the International Coral Reef Initiative.
Finally, NOS's Office of Coast Survey is leading an International Hydrographic Commission initiative in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico to develop and increase the use of electronic nautical charts. The region experiences an extremely large volume of marine transportation. This initiative will not only increase the efficiency of transportation, but also will help protect valuable coastal and marine resources such as the Meso-American Barrier Reef System.