When I started thinking about this message weeks ago, I initially planned for it to tie together NOAA’s 50th anniversary, Women’s History Month, and lessons I’ve learned throughout my career. Now, as I settle into my home office for the foreseeable future, our world is being turned upside down by COVID-19. The coming weeks and months will be difficult if not scarring for our Nation. My educational background in biology not only compels me to take the new coronavirus seriously for myself and my family, but also to feel the weight of my responsibility to the entire workforce of the National Ocean Service (NOS), here and across the country.
I'm Brad Kearse, acting director of the National Geodetic Survey (NGS), the agency responsible for maintaining and modernizing the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS), a consistent coordinate system that defines latitude, longitude, height, scale, gravity, orientation, and shoreline throughout the United States. I'd like to invite you to take part in the NGS GPS on Bench Marks campaign.
I'd like to share my thoughts on a recent conference I attended, where experts in the field of ecosystem science shared their knowledge about impacts of oil spills in the Gulf, and how this knowledge can inform regional management and policy decisions. I also want to highlight that we are celebrating #EstuaryLove throughout the month of February via NOAA's Office for Coastal Management. #EstuaryLove is an annual campaign to raise awareness about the importance of estuaries, while also celebrating the National Estuarine Research Reserve System.
I took the helm of OR&R in November of 2019, and spent the first months connecting with staff and partners that spanned the breadth of our mission. In the new year, I’m looking forward to deepening those connections, continuing our strong mission accomplishments, and conducting more joint work across OR&R’s operating divisions as a step in ensuring we are nimble in how we leverage our expertise and resources across our mission set.
Once again, NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) is finishing up a busy year. We have been setting implementation plans into motion for the new NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program Strategic Plan, and working across NOAA with state and territorial partners to target our research and conservation efforts.
During the month of October we celebrate National Seafood Month, and seafood is certainly worth celebrating! Seafood is not only important to our nation’s food security and coastal economies, it is a critical part of a healthy diet. Seafood production requires the sacrifice, adaptability, and innovation of our seafood industry, and so we honor those who bring savory seafood to our dinner plates from their boats and working waterfronts.
September has been a challenging month here at NOS. On Monday, September 2, the dive charter MV Conception was on a three-day dive excursion within Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS) when a catastrophic fire on the boat killed 34 people, including all 33 guests and one member of the boat’s crew. While the events of the boating fire unfolded, Hurricane Dorian unleashed its fury over the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama Island. In anticipation of the storm, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia declared a state of emergency, and some coastal counties from Florida to North Carolina issued mandatory evacuation orders.
Last week, I provided opening remarks for and participated in a panel discussion following a screening of the documentary “Dispatches from the Gulf 2: Research * Innovation * Discovery” at the Terrace Theatre in Charleston, South Carolina.
I am pleased to announce the designation of Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary. The designation will be official and take effect following a review by Congress and the Maryland governor after a period of 45 days of Congressional session.
NOS is making important contributions to ocean science both globally and locally. Recently, several members of the NOS leadership team traveled to Norfolk, Virginia, where we met with federal partners and regional stakeholders to hear about their experiences addressing and planning for sea level rise, as well as to discuss the impacts that sea level rise is having and will continue to have on NOS people, programs, and facilities.
Following last year’s successful U.S. Navy - NOAA partnership to deploy a fleet of “storm chaser” underwater gliders, we’ve been busy analyzing those results, and preparing for another hurricane season.
NOAA lost a steadfast champion and strong voice in support of its mission this month. Former Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings passed away on April 6 at his home in South Carolina at the age of 97.
Throughout the month of March, we celebrate Women’s History Month to commemorate the invaluable role of women in American history.
National Ocean Service Acting Assistant Administrator Nicole LeBoeuf.