This year the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) Office continued to support the Interagency Working Groups on Ocean Partnerships (IWG-OP) and Facilities and Infrastructure (IWG-FI), and the Ocean Research Advisory Panel (ORAP). The IWG-OP released a new brochure outlining their four main goals, including promoting ocean partnerships, supporting actions associated with the National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan, promoting interagency ocean planning, and fostering scientific research for priority and emerging issues. The IWG-FI continued work on their seven National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan action items. In January 2014 the ORAP published two new reports: Leveraging Ocean Education Opportunities and Implementing Ecosystem-Based Management.
Several major NOPP accomplishments in 2014 included:
- NOPP partners approved the first regulatory program for aquaculture in Federal Waters in August. This rule would open federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico to aquaculture, with the objectives of increasing the productivity of Gulf fisheries to help meet growing consumer demand for seafood, reducing U.S. dependence on foreign seafood imports, and sustaining coastal communities and economies. This new permitting structure concurrently satisfies the National Ocean Policy milestone to “develop and implement permitting regulatory efficiencies for aquaculture,” and Federal agencies anticipate a final rule by the end of FY2015.
- To address biodiversity at a national scale, NOAA, NASA and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) formed a new partnership in October. The Marine Biodiversity Observation Network will support demonstration projects in four locations (the Florida Keys, Monterey Bay and the Santa Barbara Channel in California, and in the Chukchi Sea in Alaska) over a period of five years. The vision is that this will become a network of regional networks where biodiversity will be evaluated at multiple scales.
- In November, the BOEM and NOPP partners launched the Marine Artic Ecosystem Study (MARES) – Ecosystem Dynamics and Monitoring of the Beaufort Sea: An Integrated Science Approach. The core of this research initiative is to improve the understanding of the Arctic marine environment through integration of physical, chemical, biological and social science, spatiotemporal dimensions, and management.
- The Advancing Air-Ocean-Land-Ice Global Coupled Prediction on Emerging Computational Architectures, an NOPP project that began in 2013, had a successful first year. This partnership between ONR and NOAA held its first annual review meeting in November to showcase how atmospheric models at eddy-resolving spatial scales can be run efficiently on supercomputers. These high resolution simulations may be beneficial as we assume chairmanship of the Arctic Council in April 2015.
The NOPP office also attended two major conferences. The first was the Ocean Sciences Meeting held at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu, Hawaii in February. While here, the 2013 NOPP Excellence in Partnering Award was presented to Dr. Andrew Barnard from WET Labs and his team for their project, Long-term in situ chemical sensors for monitoring nutrients: phosphate sensor commercialization and ammonium sensor development. This project is important for maintaining public health, ecosystem services and natural resources, where reliable and accurate measurements of dissolved nutrients and changes in nutrient loads, is required.
In December the NOPP office attended the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting and Mr. Craig McLean, NOAA Deputy Assistant Administrator for Programs & Administration, presented the 2014 NOPP Excellence in Partnering Award. The winning project team was Development of an integrated ISFET pH sensor for high pressure applications in the deep-sea, led by Dr. Kenneth Johnson from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), with co-PIs from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of Washington, and Honeywell, Inc. The “Deep-Sea Durafet pH” sensor will enable autonomous monitoring of ocean pH, especially as it relates to pH changes driven by increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide.