The National Ocean Service:
Keeping America’s Oceans & Coasts Safe, Healthy, & Productive

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America’s oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes play a vital role in the life of every American; yet these areas are facing unprecedented threats. During fiscal year 2009, the National Ocean Service (NOS) remained on the front lines in understanding, predicting, and responding to the challenges facing our oceans and coasts.

PROTECTING COASTAL COMMUNITIES: From continuing to deliver positioning data with benefits in the billions of dollars, to providing data to help the U.S. Coast Guard find those lost at sea, educating students about climate change, and delivering tools to help communities make “smart growth” decisions, we helped to make coastal communities safer and more sustainable.

OBSERVING OUR OCEANS & COASTS: To help increase understanding of our ever changing planet and how changes impact our society, in 2009, we expanded our National Water Level Observation Network and awarded $21 million to support the development of a network of regional observing systems. Efforts such as the California Seafloor Mapping Project and the establishment of absolute gravity stations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are helping us to better understand ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes changes and their impacts.

SUPPORTING MARINE TRANSPORTATION: Over the past year, we responded to survey requests in some of our nation’s busiest ports, expanded the Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System, studied how changes in the warming Arctic will impact shipping, adopted a system that will revolutionize how we produce nautical charts, and more—all aimed at ensuring that marine transportation is safe, efficient, and environmentally sound.

REDUCING OCEAN & COASTAL HEALTH RISKS: To predict, manage, and prevent ocean and coastal health risks, we supported efforts to provide advance warning of harmful algal blooms in the Gulf of Maine, released the first-ever comprehensive report of the level of flame retardant chemicals found in U.S. coastal waters, and worked with international partners to develop a strategy to address environmental issues in the Caribbean. As we have learned, our activities impact the health of ocean and coastal areas, and the health of these areas impact us.

PROTECTING COASTAL & MARINE PLACES: Ocean and coastal areas play such an important role in all of our lives, and to ensure that these resources are available today and well in to the future, we must balance environmental conservation, economic development, and recreational enjoyment of ocean and coastal resources. Steps such as expanding the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, focusing coral reef conservation activities through on-the-ground and in-the-water action, and restoring more than 2,500 acres of coastal wetlands in Texas are just a few of the many actions we took in 2009 to protect coastal and marine places.

From protecting our nation’s beaches and marine life, to mapping and charting waters for mariners to use to stay safe at sea, restoring damaged resources, and so much more, in 2009, the National Ocean Service continued to lead federal efforts to keep America’s oceans and coasts safe, healthy, and productive.