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December 2016 Issue

Ocean Health Initiative
Funds Marine Life Rescue

The U.S. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. announced that their Ocean Health Initiative will fund projects that support NOAA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) two national stranding response and rescue programs for marine mammals and sea turtles. The funding is part of SeaWorld’s pledge of $1.5 million over three years for the Ocean Health Initiative. Goals of the Ocean Health Initiative include: dedicated support and funding for the nation’s Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network; bolstering response and research capabilities of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network by increasing the funds available to respond to stranded mammals; and regional and national Marine Mammal Stranding Network enhancement through standardized data collection and data capture and ensuring adequate coverage across geographies.


BOEM Electromagnetic Fields
Study on Power Cables

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and stakeholders have raised the question of whether electromagnetic fields (EMF) from submerged power cables attract or repulse fish or invertebrates. A new BOEM-funded study in the Pacific yielded four key findings: researchers did not observe any significant differences in the fish communities living around energized and unenergized cables and natural habitats; they found no compelling evidence that the EMF produced by the energized power cables in this study were either attracting or repelling fish or macro invertebrates; EMF strength dissipated relatively quickly with distance from the cable and approached background levels at about 1 m from the cable; and cable burial does not seem necessary for strictly biological reasons.


New Director of US National
Marine Sanctuaries

John Armor has been selected as director of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS). He has been acting director since May 2015. Armor has been with NOAA since 2000, serving as the program’s national permitting coordinator, chief of the program’s Conservation Policy and Planning Division and ONMS deputy director overseeing personnel, policy and administrative matters. Previously, Armor worked for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to implement Florida’s wetland and estuarine protection and sovereign submerged lands programs.


BSEE Expands
SafeOCS Program

The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has expanded the SafeOCS program beyond near-miss reporting to include the confidential collection of equipment failure data in an effort to further reduce the risk of offshore incidents. Effective immediately, the offshore oil and gas industry will have the option to submit equipment failure reports for well control equipment, required under the Well Control Rule, directly through SafeOCS. Effective November 7, 2016, industry is required to submit reports for pollution prevention equipment, required under the Production Safety Systems Rule, through SafeOCS.


MARAD Awards $4.85 Million
For Marine Highways

The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) announced $4.85 million in grants to six Marine Highway projects. The Marine Highway Program seeks to expand the use of U.S. navigable waterways to relieve landside congestion and reduce air emissions. Projects receiving grant funding are: Port of Baton Rouge and Port of New Orleans Container on Barge (awarded $1,758,595); Illinois Container on Barge Shuttle Project (awarded $713,000); James River Container Expansion Project (awarded $476,748); New York Harbor and Container and Trailer on Barge Service (awarded $1,632,296); M-55/M-35 Container on Barge Project (awarded $96,000); and M-495 Potomac River Commuter Ferry Project (awarded $173,361).


NPS Releases ‘Coastal Adaptation
Strategies Handbook’

The new “Coastal Adaptation Strategies Handbook” highlights the processes and tools U.S. parks have available for response and recovery from tropical storms and hurricanes and offers strategies to address rising sea levels. The handbook comes during the National Park Service’s (NPS) 100th anniversary in 2016 and is part of a push to plan for climate change in managing the U.S.’s iconic natural, historic and cultural landscapes.


Science, Climate Change
Leader Passes

U.S. National Academy of Sciences President Emeritus Ralph J. Cicerone, a science leader and global authority on atmospheric chemistry and climate change, died at his home in New Jersey at 73. He served as the 21st president of the National Academy of Sciences from July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2016. Cicerone was a steady voice for science in Washington on some of the most challenging and controversial scientific issues of our time and a strong advocate for independent scientific advice to inform government decision making and public discourse.


Public Input Sought
For Ocean Research Plan

The Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology (SOST) is requesting public input on the overall framing and content of a plan for Ocean Research in the Coming Decade. The SOST is chartered under the U.S. National Science and Technology Council to advise and assist on national issues related to ocean science and technology. Suggestions are sought on how the plan should be structured and topic areas that should be included. Public comments must be received by January 1, 2017 at https://contribute.globalchange.gov/plan-ocean-research-coming-decade. The plan will describe: societal themes that highlight the benefits-based rationale for conducting ocean research; research goals that reflect and address the societal themes; and research activities that support the research goals and represent current and growing opportunities to provide the U.S. with the scientific and technical means to address the societal themes.



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