NOS Assistant Administrator Weekly Update

Hi Everyone,

It's very likely that you have a personal role in preparing for or responding to emergencies to carry out our mission. Incidents like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and storms like Sandy involved nearly every program in our organization. Coastal hazard preparation and response are key elements in NOS's priority to advance coastal preparedness, response, recovery, and resiliency.

Here in NOS, we recognize that immediate and potentially life-threatening events such as hurricanes, oil spills and long-term environmental change are very real challenges to sustaining healthy coastal communities and ecosystems. An important effort is underway to further improve NOS's preparedness and response capabilities. The Office of Response and Restoration, Coastal Services Center, and Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management are co-leading, with other NOS programs, the development of a cross-NOS all-hazards strategy. When we talk about "All-hazards," we include incidents or events that require an organized response to protect life, environment, and property and minimize disruption of governmental, social, and/or economic services.

In part, the strategy calls for greater coordination of preparedness and response activities across NOS programs and improving our overall all-hazards response posture. Examples of activities being considered to carry out the strategy include developing a cross-NOS group of incident coordinators; identifying training and certification needs; conducting drills and exercises and reviewing lessons learned from these drills and exercises to evaluate gaps; and establishing a cross-NOS all-hazards team.

You will hear more about implementation of the all-hazards strategy as our plans move forward, particularly how NOS can work with communities to enhance their resilience to hazards, address future risk, and deal more effectively with potential recovery and rebuilding needs through pre-disaster planning and strategies for adaptation. I would like to especially acknowledge the work of Charlie Henry and Brendan Bray in developing the preparation and response component of the overall strategy.

Holly A. Bamford, Ph.D.
Assistant Administrator for Ocean Services and Coastal
Zone Management, National Ocean Service

Around NOS

Coast Survey to Improve "Magenta Line" on Intracoastal Waterway Charts

OCS announced that future editions of nautical charts of the Intracoastal Waterway will be updated to include an improved "magenta line" that has historically aided navigation down the East Coast and around the Gulf Coast. OCS will change the magenta line's function, from the perceived "recommended route" established more than a hundred years ago, to an advisory directional guide that helps prevent boaters from going astray in the maze of channels that comprise the route. In early 2013, after receiving reports of groundings by boaters, OCS started to remove the magenta line from Intracoastal Waterway nautical charts while it conducted an internal review and asked for public comments. With this week's decision, OCS will remove the magenta line where it poses a danger to navigation, rebuild it to avoid shoals and other dangers, and reinstate the newly rebuilt line to the Intracoastal Waterway nautical charts. Importantly, OCS will add notes to the charts, emphasizing that vessels transiting the waterway should be aware of changing conditions and always honor aids to navigation.

Contact: CAPT Shep Smith

Quality Assurance and Control Standards for Ocean and Great Lakes Temperature and Salinity Measurements Released

IOOS released its fourth in a series of manuals on best practices for quality assurance and quality control procedures for ocean and coastal measurements. This report, highlighting real-time temperature and salinity data, includes commonly used sensors in all coastal regions, including the Great Lakes. These manuals were developed in close collaboration with community experts, and provide valuable guidance for the processing and distribution of high quality ocean observations. Each manual provides a checklist that the IOOS regions and others can use to implement quality assurance and control procedures, factoring in their specific, regionally-unique needs and thresholds. Improving ocean data quality assurance and control will improve the accuracy of tools, models, and forecasts that inform decisions impacting our nation's safety, economy, and environment.

Contact: Charly Alexander

Marine Cage Aquaculture Report Addresses Environmental Concerns

Over 50 percent of seafood production globally comes from aquaculture. While technological innovation has made it possible to grow food in the coastal and open ocean, managers must weigh economic and food security benefits against environmental risks. Marine Cage Culture and the Environment—a new report developed by NCCOS—presents an analysis of environmental concerns and recommendations related to marine cage aquaculture around the world. The report finds that significant advancements have been made to address environmental concerns and concludes that proper coastal planning tools and oversight can support sustainable growth of aquaculture in the coastal ocean, allowing much needed production of healthy seafood.

Contact: James Morris

GRAV-D Project Begins Survey Across the U.S.-Mexican Border

NGS's Gravity for the Redefinition of the American Vertical Datum (GRAV-D) Project has received permission from the Mexican government to overfly Mexican airspace. The project requires data to be collected 150 kilometers into Canada, Mexico, and offshore. Although NGS routinely coordinates with Canada regarding overflight of their airspace, this is our first attempt to conduct a large-scale gravity survey over Mexican airspace. NGS will coordinate closely with the Mexican agency responsible for geodesy, and provide an opportunity for their scientists to join the survey, if desired. GRAV-D will create a new vertical reference system that will improve floodplain mapping and help mitigate risks for coastal communities from tsunamis, hurricanes, and storm surges. When complete, the improved elevations from GRAV-D products will provide an estimated $4.8 billion in cost savings to the nation.

Contact: Vicki Childers

New Demographic and Economic Data Sets Are Accessible via the Digital Coast

NOAA's Digital Coast provides one of the easiest ways to obtain coast-related social science data, including economic data. Data holdings include a socioeconomic database, demographic trends, and some survey data. Users can obtain the data within several prescribed geographical boundaries, including flood hazard zones and watersheds. Recently, the 2011 demographic and economic information was added, including the Spatial Trends in Coastal Socioeconomics (STICS) information. Coastal managers can use this information and data to gain insight into coastal socioeconomic trends and make better-informed decisions on program priorities and delivery of services.

Contact: Jeffery Adkins

NOAA and EPA Propose to Disapprove Oregon's Coastal Nonpoint Program

NOAA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on December 19, 2013, their proposed decision to disapprove Oregon's coastal nonpoint pollution-control program under section 6217 of the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments. The two agencies have found that Oregon's program falls short in three key areas related to forestry, septic systems, and new development. This announcement began a 90-day public comment period during which time NOAA and EPA will consider all comments received before making a final decision. If the disapproval stands, NOAA and EPA are required to withhold a portion of the state's funding under Section 306 of the Coastal Zone Management Act and Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, respectively.

Contact: Allison Castellan

New ONMS Conservation Series Reports Address Commercial Fishing in CA Sanctuaries

ONMS has released six new reports covering the scope and impacts of commercial fisheries in the four national marine sanctuaries in California (Cordell Bank, Channel Islands, Gulf of the Farallones, and Monterey Bay). Published as part of the ONMS Conservation series, four of the reports address the economic impacts of fisheries in each sanctuary on local economies, catch sizes and value broken down by gear type and location, and additional topics identified specifically by sanctuary management. A fifth report summarizes findings across all four sanctuaries, while the sixth focuses specifically on the hook-and-line fishery for halibut in Monterey Bay. Commercial fishing is a significant ocean use in many of our national marine sanctuaries and comprehensive studies like these help NOAA better understand the economic role of this industry and its relationship to the management of marine protected areas.

Contact: Kathy Broughton

Northern Michigan Waterways NO SPILLS Conference

Last week, the NOAA Scientific Support Coordinator for the Great Lakes region and a representative from OR&R presented the recently released Great Lakes Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA®) at the Northern Michigan Waterways Hazardous Material Spill Planning Committee's annual NO SPILLS Conference. Attended by about 220 participants, the conference focused on the challenges that emergency planners and responders face when preparing for oil and hazmat spills in northern Michigan and the Great Lakes. Great Lakes ERMA is an online mapping tool for coastal pollution cleanup, restoration, and response efforts in the Great Lakes Basin, from Minnesota to New York in the United States and from Ontario to Quebec in Canada. It includes the most comprehensive collection of environmental contaminant data in the Great Lakes.

Contact: LCDR John Lomnicky

NOS Assistant Administrator
NOS Assistant Administrator Holly Bamford

NOS Assistant Administrator
Dr. Holly Bamford

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