NOAA's Ecosystem Goal Team Newsletter

November 2008

Spotlight On

In The News



Upcoming Events



"Spotlight on"

Ecosystem Research Program

Seeking information on the global rise in hypoxic "dead" zones? Want to view expeditions in real-time as land-based scientists pilot ROVs to the depths of the oceans? Perhaps you need a nowcast and forecast of the location of harmful Vibrio bacteria? If so, then look no further than the Ecosystem Research Program (ERP), the research "arm" of NOAA's Ecosystem Goal Team (EGT).

How ERP Works

Employing a mix of both intra- and extramural research, ERP focuses the best science on exploring, understanding, and managing natural and anthropogenic influences that affect ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems. To do that, ERP engages the scientific process from the first stages (e.g., exploration of new resources, discovery of natural marine products, ecosystem characterizations), to the last (e.g. transferring models, datasets and forecasts to managers, advancing technology, training managers, and educating scientists and school groups). For example, coastal management decisions are made every day by local communities, usually with little or no scientific basis on the long-term effects of each management choice. However, armed with scenario forecasts that ERP provides, local communities are better able to make the right choice that often results in sustainable growth and greater long-term positive economic impact. By separating research from management, ERP serves as an honest broker to provide scientifically defensible management options.

ERP provides a suite of overarching capabilities that support NOAA's mission:

  • Explore and characterize ecosystem health, which includes identification of the physical location and extent as well as the biological, chemical, physical, and human characteristics of an ecosystem, to ensure sound management and assessment of coastal and ocean ecosystems.

  • Identify causes and consequences of changes in ecosystem condition to better understand ecosystem stressors and determine the processes by which they act in order to provide resource managers with the information required to balance environmental, social, and economic goals.

  • Develop forecasts to predict ecological (and socioeconomic) impacts to provide coastal and ocean managers better insight into the effects of their decisions in the context of societal needs and goals.

  • Develop technologies and tools to increase our understanding of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems, facilitate the ecosystem approach to management, and promote responsible and sustainable use of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources.

  • Strengthen stewardship through outreach and education to enhance informed decision making by coastal communities, stakeholders, and users of ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources, as well as to facilitate the application of new research, technologies, and tools.

ERP Outreach

ERP continues to enhance its communication and outreach to both stakeholders at NOAA and beyond. Lately, ERP held a series of Logic Modeling workshops attended by ERP members, along with other EGT programs and NOAA Goals, to develop the 2009-2014 ERP Strategic Plan. Incorporating the visions and expertise of ERP partners into planning will ensure that ERP maintains and advances its position as a major NOAA research program. We're also nearing completion of the ERP Projects Database, which will provide detailed information on all (yes, ALL!) of ERP's research projects. Once completed, NOAA staff will have access to detailed project descriptions and accomplishments, researcher contact information and performance metrics, among other valuable information. Lastly, ERP has a new online presence. Consider it "one stop shopping" for all things ERP, including accomplishments in the field, descriptions of ERP's 8 component programs, and the ERP Near You! Map, featuring the many locations across the country where ERP works. To learn more, visit the Ecosystem Research Program website.

Who is ERP?

ERP staff (Leon Cammen - Manager; Gene Kim - Coordinator; Aaron Kornbluth - Asst. Coordinator) works closely with members of each of the 8 ERP component programs:

  • Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory (AOML),
  • Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL),
  • Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL),
  • Ocean Exploration & Research (OER),
  • Office of Protected Resources (OPR),
  • National Sea Grant College Office (NSGO),
  • National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), and
  • Oceans & Human Health Initiative (OHHI).

It is precisely this combination of Programs that allows ERP to extend such a great reach in the iterative cycle of research to management.

The Future of ERP

At the close of the FY2011 Planning and Programming phases, ERP will be participating in three high-priority enterprises within the current EGT Program: The Integrated Ocean Acidification (OA) Initiative, Integrated Ecosystem Assessments (IEAs), and Mitigating Climate Change Impacts on NOAA Trust Resources Alternatives. With participation from multiple stakeholders in different Programs and Goals, these activities seek to tackle complex issues utilizing an end-to-end process of research to product development to transition of research to application.

As the research "engine" for the EGT, ERP seeks to foster healthy and productive coastal and marine ecosystems that benefit society. In this regard, ERP partners with other EGT Programs, along with Programs from other Goals. We continue to strive to develop regional scientific infrastructure, and to support and conduct research that will help discover, manage, and conserve ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources for future generations.

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In the News

Aquaculture Program Participates in Two Offshore Aquaculture Forums

NOAA Aquaculture Program Manager Dr. Michael Rubino and program staff recently participated in two separate forums on offshore aquaculture on the West Coast. The first forum was held September 9-10, 2008, at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, in Newport, Oregon. The forum, organized by Oregon State University and NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center, provided an opportunity for an informed discussion of the risks and opportunities for offshore aquaculture in the Pacific Northwest. Dr. Rubino was a featured speaker along with other aquaculture experts and researchers, including co-organizer Dr. Mike Rust of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center. U.S. fish farmers, community leaders, commercial fishermen, and other interested stakeholders also spoke. More information, including presentations and video clips, is available at the Forum on Offshore Aquaculture In the Pacific Northwest web page . Another forum, titled Sustainable Offshore Marine Aquaculture: An Opportunity for California - Environmentally & Economically, was held in Long Beach, California, on September 19-20, 2008. Organized by the Aquarium of the Pacific, the forum brought together government agencies, entrepreneurs, environmentalists, and other stakeholders to look at offshore aquaculture as a way to help relieve pressure on wild fisheries stocks while increasing the domestic production of seafood. Dr. Rubino was also a speaker at this meeting. More information is available at the Aquarium of the Pacific website.

Coastal and Marine Resources: MPA Center Launches National System of Marine Protected Areas

On November 20th, NOAA's National Marine Protected Areas Center, together with the Department of the Interior, will launch the National System of Marine Protected Areas - the first formal mechanism for coordinating MPAs across all levels of government. The launch completes a cooperative multi-year effort to enhance the protection of the nation's natural and cultural marine resources. The national system will achieve national conservation objectives that will benefit the nation, participating MPAs, and ocean stakeholders. It will also provide a transparent, science-based and public process for identifying gaps in existing protection efforts where new MPAs may be needed. The Framework for the National System of Marine Protected Areas of the United States of America, made public on November 20th, is the blueprint for building the national system. The Framework outlines key components of the national system, including overarching national system goals and priority conservation objectives; MPA eligibility criteria; a nomination process for existing MPAs to be included in the national system; and a science-based, public process for identifying conservation gaps. The Framework was developed with extensive involvement from states, tribes, and stakeholders representing all perspectives, including the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee. (

Coastal and Marine Resources: MPA Center Holds First Ocean Uses Atlas Workshop

In September, the Marine Protected Areas Center (MPA Center) convened a workshop of regional ocean experts to map 25 industrial, consumptive, and non-consumptive human uses of the ocean for the Ocean Uses Atlas project. Using innovative participatory GIS mapping techniques, this gathering of resource managers, users, stakeholders, and scientists produced an unprecedented suite of digital maps depicting the full range and diversity of how and where people use the ocean off Southern California. Participants mapped the locations of three categories of human uses: fishing, non-consumptive uses (e.g., boating, diving, wildlife viewing), and military and industrial uses. The Ocean Uses Atlas project is a collaborative project of the MPA Center and the Marine Conservation Biology Institute, with funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation. The project is designed to enhance the scientific foundation of ocean management of current and emerging uses including fishing, recreational uses, aquaculture, and alternative energy siting. While this workshop focused specifically on southern California, three other workshops are planned within the next year along the entire California coast. Products from these workshops are intended to inform broader ocean planning and management. (

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Coastal and Marine Resources: North American Marine Protected Areas Network (NAMPAN) Steering Committee Meets

In October, representatives from Canada, Mexico and the United States met along with staff from the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) to participate in the North American Marine Protected Areas Network (NAMPAN) Steering Committee meeting. The meeting was held in Silver Spring, MD, and several NOAA offices were in attendance, including staff from the National MPA Center and National Marine Fisheries Service/Office of International Affairs. Participants reviewed the draft 2009 NAMPAN operating plan and identified several priority issues for the upcoming year. These include: identifying the Olympic Peninsula as the location of where to conduct a spring 2009 workshop to expand the NAMPAN "Baja to Bering" condition report process; selecting the extended Atlantic coast (Yucatan to Labrador) for Ministerial approval as the next priority region for NAMPAN project focus; and identifying ways to better integrate NAMPAN activities into country agencies to provide a long term structure for NAMPAN program operation. (

Coral Reef Conservation: Threat-based Working Groups Formed to Guide CRCP into the Future

In 2007, the Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) underwent an external review by a panel of recognized experts in coral reef resource science and management to provide an independent assessment of the CRCP's effectiveness in meeting its goals and to suggest recommendations for future improvement. In response to the panel's report, (pdf, 1.09 mb) the CRCP developed a Roadmap for the Future (pdf, 247 kb), laying out new principles and priorities for the future of the Program. According to this new Roadmap, the primary objective of the CRCP will be to address strategic coral reef management needs and the CRCP will narrow its focus by emphasizing efforts on understanding and addressing the top three global and national threats to coral reef ecosystems: fishing impacts, land-based sources of pollution and climate change. In order to implement the proposed changes, the CRCP has put into place three working groups to provide recommendations on the strategic goals and objectives the Program should work towards in the next 5-20 years in order to effectively address each of these top three threats. These threat-based working groups were established in early October and will work towards their stated goal over the next eight months. You can track their progress by visiting the working groups' Web page via the link above.

Contact:, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (CRCP), (301) 713-3155 x170

Coral Reef Conservation: NOAA Gives Threatened Corals Additional Protection

On October 29, NOAA Fisheries Service published a final rule in the Federal Register to protect elkhorn and staghorn corals, which were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on May 9, 2006. Species listed as "endangered" under the ESA are covered by a suite of protective measures and prohibitions in the law. However, for species listed as "threatened," these same measures and prohibitions do not automatically apply. Thus, NOAA's Fisheries Service has developed a separate rule under section 4(d) of the ESA that identifies the prohibitions necessary to conserve elkhorn and staghorn corals. The final rule, or 4(d) rule, prohibits import, export, take, and all commercial activities involving either of these threatened species. The rule will not prohibit scientific research and enhancement activities or restoration activities carried out or permitted by authorized agencies. This rule was originally proposed on December 14, 2007, and incorporates the results of a 90-day public comment period. The prohibitions of the 4(d) rule become effective on Friday, November 21, 2008. In addition, NOAA has a court-ordered deadline of November 30, 2008 to finalize the critical habitat designations for these corals, and the 17-member Acropora Recovery Team will be meeting this December to continue creating a draft recovery plan for these species. More information, including the final rule, FAQs, and a guide for scientific researchers seeking permits, is available online.

Contact:, NMFS Protected Resources Division, (727) 824-5312.

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Coral Reef Conservation: CRCP Provides Information to Support Assessment of Pacific Marine Conservation Areas

An interagency Presidential initiative is ongoing to assess three areas in the Pacific for consideration of additional protection or recognition. The three areas of interest are the Pacific Remote Island Areas, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Rose Atoll in American Samoa. As part of this initiative, Chairman Jim Connaughton of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) requested presentations by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA's Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) and National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) to highlight their ecosystem observations of the areas under consideration. On October 17th, CRED provided comparative analyses of the integrated ecosystem assessments of the 50 islands/atolls surveyed biennially as part of the Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program. NCCOS and CRED have also been working with CEQ to provide updated benthic habitat mapping products for these areas. With extremely high fish biomass, high coral cover, and high biological diversity, the proposed Marine Conservation Areas are among the most pristine predator-dominated coral reef ecosystems on earth. These areas can provide essential data to understanding ecosystem resilience in the face of global climate change.

Contact:, NMFS Coral Reef Ecosystem Division, (808) 944-2115.

Coral Reef Conservation Ecosystem Research: Marine Protected Area Successful in Conserving Fishery Resources

Scientists from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) recently determined that the Tortugas Ecological Reserve in the Florida Keys can effectively protect coral reef ecosystems. Data from an August 2008 NCCOS cruise aboard the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster provided evidence of an increased grouper population and reduced marine debris within the Reserve. Specifically, fish surveys indicated that grouper numbers within the Reserve were 2.4 times higher, and that nine grouper species were found inside the Reserve as compared to only five species found outside the Reserve. Durable derelict fishing gear made up 90% of all marine debris observed, and amounts were similar inside and outside the Reserve. In contrast, non-fishing debris was observed at only 4% of sites inside but at 32% of sites outside the Reserve. Marine Protected Areas are promising management options for protecting fragile seafloor habitats and commercially important fish that are highly susceptible to damage from human activities. Researchers must monitor this new approach to ecosystem management to determine its effectiveness. Further data processing is ongoing and results will be provided to reef resource managers in the region.

Contacts:, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, (252) 728-8602; or National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, (252) 728-8744.

Ecosystem Research [NCCOS/CSCOR]: NCCOS ecological forecasting capabilities assist managers to mitigate the impacts of Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia

On April 24, 2008, NCCOS-supported scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and North Carolina State University (NCSU) conducted the first ever seasonal forecast for harmful algal blooms in the Gulf of Maine. The prediction, which turned out to be accurate, allowed shellfish farmers and fishermen to shift the timing of their harvests and state resource and public health managers to make better decisions regarding closures of shellfish beds. These efforts helped reduce economic losses from the bloom and prevented people from eating contaminated shellfish and getting sick. Information about how the forecast was developed as well as other NOAA New England Red Tide information can be found through the NOAA New England Red Tide Center website.

In addition, earlier this summer as part of long-term NCCOS-supported hypoxia research efforts, scientists from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium predicted the size of this year's Gulf of Mexico dead zone to be the largest on record. The area was reduced substantially by Hurricane Dolly, but still turned out to be the second largest on record, equivalent to an area the size of the state of Massachusetts. The Gulf of Mexico dead zone threatens critical commercial and recreational fisheries. Predictions of the dead zone's size help determine the relationships between hypoxia and nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River watershed and provide the scientific foundation for ecosystem based management of this large watershed which has nutrient management implications for 40% of the US. These two new ecological forecasting capabilities highlight the tremendous progress that has been made through NCCOS's suite of national HAB and Hypoxia programs toward helping coastal managers prepare for HAB and Hypoxia events that threaten critical commercial and recreational fisheries as well as tourism industries in regional areas across the U.S.

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Ecosystem Research [OHHI]: Predicting Vibrio cholerae in Chesapeake Bay

A prediction system generating daily experimental nowcasts and three-day forecasts of the likely presence of the bacterium Vibrio cholerae in the Chesapeake Bay (Fig. 1) commenced in October 2007. The system, run routinely at the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, identifies the geographic locations in Chesapeake Bay where ambient conditions coincide with the preferred environment of V. cholerae. This is accomplished by applying a habitat suitability model, developed previously (Louis et al., 2003), for V. cholerae in the Bay with real-time temperature and salinity fields simulated by the Regional Ocean Modeling System configured for the Bay. The predictions are staged on the "Mapping Pathogens in the Chesapeake Bay" web site for dissemination. We expect to include predictions for additional bacteria when habitat models become available.

The pathogen prediction system is based upon the ecological approach and computing infrastructure previously established by projects predicting the likely location(s) of sea nettles, a stinging jellyfish, and of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in the Chesapeake Bay. These projects were developed under the financial auspices of NOAA's Ecological Forecasting and MERHAB programs, respectively.

This innovative prediction system supports the objectives of the Oceans and Human Health Initiative to develop a suite of tools to identify and predict ocean-related public health risks from pathogens, and represents a step towards achieving NOAA's Ecosystem goal of developing a more robust ecosystem modeling capability to serve current and future management information needs.

The experimental pathogen prediction system in the Chesapeake Bay is the result of collaborative efforts between several offices within NOAA, the University of Maryland, and the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science.

Literature Cited
Louis V.R., Russek-Cohen E., Choopun N., Rivera I.N., Gangle B., Jiang S.C., Rubin A., Patz J.A., Huq A. & Colwell R.R. (2003) Predictability of Vibrio cholerae in Chesapeake Bay. Appl Environ Microbiol, 69, 2773-85.

Habitat: NOAA Releases New Mapping Tool for Essential Fish Habitat Convenient One-Stop for Essential Fish Habitat Maps

NOAA Fisheries announces the availability of the Essential Fish Habitat Mapper. This web-based tool is the first of its kind to display essential fish habitat data and maps nationally. The Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires that federal Fishery Management Plans identify and describe habitat necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding or growth to maturity. Managers then consider specific protection measures for these areas. The new, interactive Mapper enables the public and managers to query information from multiple Fishery Management Plans at once to view habitat maps and species lists for a specific location. The Mapper uses state-of-the-art web technology to create a platform for distributing NMFS and other spatial habitat data, providing a user-friendly and highly interactive upgrade to the static maps of the past. The convenient, one-stop EFH Mapper tool enables users to generate essential fish habitat maps for over 100 species groups and displays over 100 offshore areas identified as habitat areas of particular concern.

Habitat: Coastal Shoreline Restoration Monitoring at the Bar Beach Restoration Site

NOAA's Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program (DARRP), within the NOAA Habitat Matrix Program, has been following the progress of saltmarsh and coastal shoreline restoration at the Bar Beach restoration site on Hempstead Harbor since 2003. Restoration was conducted to compensate for injuries to natural resources associated with releases of hazardous substances from the Applied Environmental Services Superfund Site in Glenwood Landing, Long Island, NY which is located across the harbor from the restoration site. NOAA and its partners, New York State, the Town of North Hempstead, and Audubon conducted a site visit on September 23, 2008. During this same time frame, NOAA's consultant was conducting the fifth and final year of monitoring at the site to assess recovery of vegetation, benthic invertebrates, fish, and birds. NOAA will be looking into additional sources of funding to continue monitoring the project, with a particular focus on the benthic community as its recovery time extends beyond the funded monitoring period. For more information, contact or

Habitat: NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office Deploys Fifth and Sixth CBIBS Buoys

In September, the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office deployed the fifth and sixth buoys in the Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System-one at the mouth of the Susquehanna River off Havre de Grace, Maryland, and one in the Elizabeth River off Norfolk, Virginia. Like the other four buoys in the system, the new CBIBS buoys will track meteorological, oceanographic, and water-quality conditions in real-time and relay them via wireless technology. CBIBS buoys are stationed in locations that have historical relevance as part of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail and where they can fill critical scientific observation gaps on the Bay to help monitor progress toward Bay restoration. The Susquehanna buoy will feature a nitrate sensor to help monitor the flow of nutrients into the Bay; the Norfolk buoy is to feature a GPS-enabled monitor for sea level rise. Educational curricula are also being developed that use CBIBS data in classrooms to help teach science. Visit the buoys in cyberspace at or by calling 877-BUOY-BAY.

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Coastal and Marine Resources: MPA Federal Advisory Committee Seeks Nominations

The Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee is seeking new members to fill approximately 14 vacancies for early 2010. The Committee advises the Departments of Commerce and the Interior on the development and implementation of a national system of marine protected areas. Nominations for natural and social scientists; state and territorial resource managers; cultural resource experts; and representatives of ocean industry, commercial and recreational fishing, and environmental organizations are sought by November 30. Nominations must include a resume or CV, a cover letter describing the nominees qualifications and interest in serving on the Committee, and up to three letters of support. Self nominations are acceptable. Nominations should be sent to the address below; email nominations are acceptable. Visit the MPA center website for more details. (

Coral Reef Conservation: Public Comment Opportunity for Deep-Sea Coral and Sponge Strategic Plan

On October 17, NOAA published a federal register notice to announce the availability of the Draft NOAA Deep-Sea Coral and Sponge Research and Management Strategic Plan (pdf, 330 kb) for public comment. Prepared under the auspices of NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program and in consultation with the Nation's eight Regional Fishery Management Councils, the Draft NOAA Deep-Sea Coral and Sponge Research and Management Strategic Plan identifies objectives, priorities and approaches that will guide NOAA's research, management, and international activities from Fiscal Year 2009 through 2013 as they relate to deep coral and sponge ecosystems. The Draft NOAA Deep-Sea Coral and Sponge Research and Management Strategic Plan will be available for public comment for a period of 90-days from the date of publication of this Federal Register Notice (FRN) (pdf, 45 kb). The FRN includes instructions for submitting comments; please submit all electronic comments to

Contact:, NMFS Ecosystem Assessment Division, (301) 713-3459 x107.


Coral Reef Conservation: Ocean Acidification Product Released

Ocean acidification is the altering of surface ocean chemistry in response to rising levels of atmospheric CO2. Many studies have now demonstrated that under increased CO2 levels, many reef-building corals slow or cease production of their shell material, potentially compromising the ability of coral reefs to withstand erosion, disease, bleaching, and rising sea-level in coming decades. A new NOAA Coral Reef Watch (CRW) Experimental Ocean Acidification Product Suite Version 0.1 is now available on-line that will help advance the science in this rapidly emerging field. The new satellite-based product monitors the extent of ocean acidification throughout the Greater Caribbean Region and examines the changes that have transpired over the past two decades. The website provides regional maps of a variety of parameters relevant to this threat, time-series of ocean acidification in the region, and an educational overview of the topic. Scientists are using this data to determine how fast acidification is occurring, study local variability, and develop testable hypothesizes about the ability of coral to adapt to its effects.

Contact:, NESDIS Coral Reef Watch, (301) 713-2857 x137.

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Coral Reef Conservation: New Sampling Design Tool for ArcGIS Released

Scientists from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) recently released a Geographic Information System (GIS) Sampling Design Tool for science planning that improves sampling efficiency by integrating maps at relevant spatial scales into survey designs, while balancing factors such as statistical power, precision and cost. The Sampling Design Tool has two main functions: 1) to help select a sample from a population, and 2) to perform sample design analysis. When these functions are combined iteratively, the tool effectively and simply achieves the goal of sample surveys - to obtain accurate, high-precision estimates of population metrics while minimizing cost. Although NCCOS focuses on marine habitats and some examples reflect this, the tool can be used to sample any type of population defined in space, be it coral reefs or corn fields. The tool and the technical manual can be downloaded online.

Contact:, NOS National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, (301) 713-3028 x107; or, NOS National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, (301) 713-3028 x140.

Coral Reef Conservation: New Metadata Text Search Available from CoRIS

The Coral Reef Information System (CoRIS) recently released a new text search that searches all of its metadata and library publications. Users now have the option of utilizing either a "Quick Search" or "Advanced Search" option for locating metadata and publications, as well as a "browse list" option. This new capability provides increased usability, making the data and publications available on CoRIS easier to locate.

Contact:, NESDIS Coral Reef Information System, (301) 713-3284 x20

Ecosystem Research [GLERL]: GLERL's New Facility

In January 2009 GLERL will be moving into a new facility located approximately four miles from the center of town, at 4840 South State Road, Ann Arbor, MI. The 40,225 square feet facility will contain state-of-the-art wet and dry laboratories, conference facilities, a library, a marine instrumentation shop and a host of offices to accommodate over 100 federal and cooperative institute employees. This facility will not only accommodate research space but will also provide a forum to foster collaboration with the Great Lakes community.

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Ecosystem Research [NCCOS]: Interagency Report Released to Congress Aims to Improve Harmful Algal Bloom Management

The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS)-supported interagency report, Harmful Algal Bloom Management and Response: Assessment and Plan, was released to Congress this week and aims to lessen harmful algal blooms (HABs) and HAB impacts by presenting a plan to improve management. The plan proposes a program focused on developing and implementing strategies for prevention, control, and mitigation of HABs, improving HAB event response nationally, and improving the access to and availability of core infrastructure. The report is the third of five mandated by Congress under the 2004 reauthorization of the federal Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA).

Ecosystem Research [GLERL]: First Ever Lake Erie Harmful Algal Bloom Bulletin Issued

GLERL research continues to characterize Great Lakes harmful algal bloom dynamics. Microcystis, a microscopic blue-green algae, are common in parts of western Lake Erie and Lake Huron's Saginaw Bay. These cyanobacteria can become abundant in shallow or undisturbed water due to excessive nutrient levels or sunlight in water. Toxin-producing blooms are referred to as Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). This year GLERL, working in conjunction with the NOAA Center of Excellence for Great Lakes and Human Health and university partners, produced the first ever Lake Erie Harmful Algal Bloom Bulletin. The bulletin was distributed to users throughout the Lake Erie area. Human health is profoundly affected by water quality in the Great Lakes. The ability to predict HABs and issue early warnings will aid in reducing human health risks associated with rapid degradation in drinking water quality and Great Lakes beach conditions. These reports present the first comprehensive plan specifically focused on developing and implementing a program to improve HAB management and response.For more information, contact Quay Dortch at (301) 713-3338 or

Ecosystem Research [Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab - GLERL]: PI Dr. David Reid received the Department of Commerce Gold Medal, the highest honor award that can be granted by the Secretary of Commerce. Dr. Reid earned this distinguished award for his developing and leading a multi-year, bi-national research program focusing on ballast-borne invasive species risk from "NOBOB" (no-ballast-on-board) ships. Understanding risk from invasive species benefits Great Lakes stakeholders, from both the ecosystem and transoceanic maritime commerce perspective.

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Ecosystem Research: ERP PI Dr. Henry Vanderploeg et. al. received 2008 OAR Outstanding Scientific Paper Award

Authors: Henry A. Vanderploeg, Thomas H. Johengen, P.J. Lavrentyev, C. Chen, Gregory A. Lang, M.A. Agy, M.H. Bundy, Joann F. Cavaletto, Brian J. Eadie, James R. Liebig, Gerry S. Miller, Steven A. Ruberg, and Michael J. McCormick, 2007. Anatomy of the recurrent coastal sediment plume in Lake Michigan and its impacts on light climate, nutrients, and plankton. Journal of Geophysical Research, vol. 112, C03S90, doi: 10.1029/2004JC002379.

The annual Outstanding Scientific Paper Awards were established to recognize the NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) Federal employees, and Cooperative Institute (CI) scientists associated with OAR who published outstanding scientific peer-reviewed research papers, review papers, books, monographs, and chapters of books that have contributed to or contain the results of research sponsored by OAR.

Habitat: Blue Crab Disaster Declaration

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gutierrez announced on September 23 that a decline in the harvest of soft shell and peeler blue crabs in Chesapeake Bay is a commercial fishery failure. The harvest value of soft shell and peeler blue crabs in Maryland and Virginia - both sold as soft shell crabs - has declined by 41 percent from the late 1990s. (65% in Virginia and 21% in Maryland). The declaration is an important step in making watermen and their communities eligible for economic assistance. This does not appropriate funds but opens the door to allow funds for blue crab economic assistance. This declaration is being made based on the "undetermined cause" provision of Magnuson-Stevens. Although the dockside value of the entire blue crab fishery remained basically unchanged between the two time periods compared (1999-2001 and 2004-2006), there was a substantial decrease in the dockside value of the soft shell and peeler portion of the fishery between those two time periods. More information is available at and

Habitat: Draft PEIS on Chesapeake Bay Oysters Released

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as lead federal agency, together with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Virginia Marine Resources Commission, released the draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement on Chesapeake Bay oysters on October 17. The NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office funded and administered grants beginning in 2003 to research many aspects of a non-native Suminoe oyster proposed for introduction, Crassostrea ariakensis, and its interactions with the native C. virginica in order to provide science to inform the development of the document. The draft PEIS discusses potential impacts of the introduction of the non-native oysters (both as fertile diploids and sterile triploids) as well as alternative efforts to restore the native oyster populations in the Bay. Public meetings will be held between now and mid-November to solicit public input on future directions; the 60-day public comment period will close on December 15. For the full draft PEIS and more information on the public comment process, visit the USACE Norfolk District Chesapeake Bay Oyster EIS web page.

Habitat: Announcing the 2009 National Wetlands Awards

Celebrating 20 years of outstanding contributions to Wetlands Conservation

Nomination forms for the 2009 National Wetlands Awards are now available. The awards program, administered by the Environmental Law Institute and supported by a partnership of six Federal Agencies, has honored individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the conservation and restoration of our nation's wetlands for 20 years. This year, the National Marine Fisheries Service, through the Office of Habitat Conservation, is a co-sponsor of the award.

The National Wetlands Awards Program recognizes extraordinary individual achievement in six categories: Education and Outreach; Science Research; Conservation and Restoration; Landowner Stewardship; State, Tribal and Local Program Development; and Wetland Community Leader.

The winners in each category will be honored in a ceremony on Capitol Hill in May, 2009.

For more information, profiles of past awardees or a nomination form, visit

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Coral Reef Conservation: Cyanide Detection Workshop Proceedings Now Available

The illegal use of cyanide to capture live reef fish for both the food industry and the aquarium trade is wide spread in the Asia-Pacific region and not only leads to high mortality rates of the captured fish, but also damages and kills corals and other organisms on the reefs. NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program released the Proceedings of the International Cyanide Detection Testing Workshop in early October. The workshop, held earlier this year, was one component of a series of initiatives being implemented by the CRCP to address this unsustainable and destructive trade in coral reef species. It brought together participants from Indonesia, the Philippines, the United States, and Vietnam, with representatives from fisheries and law enforcement agencies, forensic laboratories, CITES Parties, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), industry, and academia.

This document summarizes the outcomes of the workshop, including summary recommendations, working group reports, abstracts and white papers from speakers, and background information on cyanide fisheries. The Executive Summary highlights the major outcomes and conclusions from the workshop, including nine specific recommendations. These proceedings provide the framework to move forward with implementing networks of cyanide detection laboratories. Such networks would advance international efforts to enforce bans on this type of fishing and help reduce this illegal and unsustainable fishery's presence in the aquarium trade.

Contact:, NMFS Ecosystem Assessment Division, (301) 713-0299 x199.

Coral Reef Conservation: Release of Four Social Science Products and Tools for Coral Reef Conservation

The Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) and partners have recently released four social science products relating to coral reef conservation.

  • The CRCP worked with Conservation International, the International Coral Reef Initiative, the Coastal Ocean Values Center, and the World Resources Institute to produce a new guide on Economic Values of Coral Reefs, Mangroves, and Seagrasses: A Global Compilation 2008. To search the values geospatially and download reference reports, go to
  • NOAA released a demographic baseline report in support of the International Year of the Reef 2008. This new report, Demographic Baseline Report of U.S. Territories and Counties Adjacent to Coral Reef Habitats, summarizes demographic baseline data for American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Hawai`i, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Southeast Florida, and the Florida Keys.
  • Two new sets of regional guidelines for socioeconomic monitoring are now available online. The SocMon South Asia and SEM-Pasifika Guidelines, the latter developed for the Pacific Region, were released by the CRCP and partners in October. These regions now join the Caribbean & Central America, Western Indian Ocean, and Southeast Asia in having regionally-tailored user-friendly guidelines for community-based socioeconomic monitoring in coastal areas.

Contact:, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (CRCP), (301) 713-3155 x155.

Coral Reef Conservation: Ocean Acidification Study Published

Ocean acidification is the altering of surface ocean chemistry in response to rising levels of atmospheric CO2. Many studies have now demonstrated that under increased CO2 levels, many reef-building corals slow or cease production of their shell material, potentially compromising the ability of coral reefs to withstand erosion, disease, bleaching, and rising sea-level in coming decades. A study lead by NOAA Coral Reef Watch (CRW) scientist Dwight Gledhill was released in the October 31 issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans, showing significant ocean acidification across much of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico over the last decade.

Through an innovative approach of combining observations from ships and satellites, a detailed picture of ocean acidification across much of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico was obtained. The study used four years of ocean chemistry observations provided by NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory that were taken aboard the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ship Explorer of the Seas. The ship observations were extended using a satellite-based model to discern changes in surface chemistry due to ocean acidification over the past decade.

The study reveals ocean acidification rates that are likely to reduce coral reef growth to critical levels before the end of this century unless atmospheric CO2 emissions are reduced. The challenge posed by ocean acidification magnifies the problems corals face from other threats including increased incidence of coral bleaching in response to rising ocean temperatures. The study also finds that variability in ocean chemistry in waters around the Florida Keys might help these reefs better adapt to future ocean acidification. However, how ocean acidification is expressed in the coastal waters where coral reefs reside is currently poorly understood and the Coral Reef Conservation Program, of which the CRW is a part, is actively working to better monitor these environments.

Contact:, NESDIS Coral Reef Watch, (301) 713-2857 x137.

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Coral Reef Conservation: Preliminary Findings for Guam and CNMI Monitoring Delivered to NAVFAC

On September 30th, the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division completed and delivered copies of preliminary findings and key figures from the Coral Reef Ecosystem and Habitat Surveys in the Mariana Archipelago: Preliminary Findings and Key Figures for the Islands of Guam, Aguijan, Tinian, Saipan, and Pagan to the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC). Preliminary findings are being provided now to satisfy a contract from NAVFAC; while funding was provided by the Navy, copies of the report were also provided to key federal and local resource management agencies in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). This delivery included an introduction, notes on methods and surveys, oceanographic findings across the region, short summaries of preliminary findings for each of the five islands, and, most importantly, about 500 draft figures presenting the data collected around each of the five islands during Mariana Archipelago Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program cruises in 2003, 2005, and 2007. Data processing, analyses, and development of the full coral reef ecosystem monitoring report for the Mariana Archipelago are on-going; any findings presented in this report are preliminary and may be subject to revision after further analyses.

Contact:, NMFS Coral Reef Ecosystem Division, (808) 944-2123.

Ecosystem Research:

Murdoch, E., J.S. Reif, M. Mazzoil, S.D. McCulloch, P.A. Fair, G.D. Bossart. 2008. Lobomycosis in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from the Indian River Lagoon, Florida: estimate of prevalence, temporal trends and spatial distribution. EcoHealth (online: [02E00044] (CCEHBR)

Goodwin, K.D. and R.W. Litaker. 2008. Emerging Technologies for Monitoring Recreational Waters for Bacteria and Viruses. Chapter 19. In: P.J. Walsh, S.L. Smith, L.E. Fleming, H.M. Solo-Gabriele and W.H. Gerwick (eds.) Oceans and Human Health: Risk and Remedies from the Seas. Elsevier. p. 381-403. (CCFHR)

Breitburg, D.L., D.W. Hondorp, L.A. Davias and R.J. Diaz. 2009. Hypoxia, Nitrogen, and Fisheries: Integrating Effects Across Local and Global Landscapes. Annu. Rev. Mar. Sci. 1:329-49. (CSCOR)

Jin, D., Hoagland, P. 2008. The value of harmful algal bloom predictions to the nearshore commercial shellfish fishery in the Gulf of Maine. Harmful Algae 7: 772-781. (CSCOR)

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Upcoming Events

Coral Reef Conservation: Pacific Coral Reef Mapping and Monitoring Workshop

The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) is reviewing and potentially revising long-term plans for its monitoring and mapping activities (collectively the Coral Reef Ecosystem Integrated Observing System [CREIOS]) to ensure they are cost-effective, aligned with management needs, and allow for the timely delivery of required products and services to all essential users, given funding constraints. As a first step in a strategic planning effort to strengthen the link between science and management goals, the CRCP will bring together coral reef ecosystem managers and CRCP scientists at a three-day workshop November 18-20, in Honolulu, Hawai`i. The workshop objectives are to 1) identify mapping and monitoring priorities for local, jurisdictional, regional, and national management efforts, 2) identify data and information needs to address gaps, and 3) identify beneficial products and potential new solutions that meet management needs. This facilitated workshop is intended to be a forum for discussing managers' needs for monitoring and mapping data to achieve the common goals of increasing understanding of coral reef ecosystems and improving coral reef ecosystem health. The CRCP has invited 26 representatives from local agencies of the State of Hawai`i, the Territory of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, as well as the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, the Western Pacific Fisheries Management Council, and the Department of the Interior, to attend this workshop. NOAA scientists will participate alongside the managers in order to discuss scientific capabilities and understand location-specific needs directly from the managers. The outcomes from the meeting will inform strategic long-term funding decisions with regard to the CRCP's CREIOS program.

Contact:, NESDIS Coral Reef Watch, (301) 713-2857 x129.

Coral Reef Conservation: Coral Genomics for the Non-Genomic Scientist

Sponsored by the Coral Reef Conservation Program and the National Coral Reef Institute, this workshop will be held from June 21-27, 2009 at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV. The course is designed around practical problem sets to illustrate each of the types of data available to today's coral researcher and provide the participant with practical experience with real coral data. Accepted participants will be surveyed to tailor the course content to their needs. The only pre-requisite for the course is to be comfortable using a PC computer. For more information, including the application form, information on cost, travel scholarships, and a list of instructors, click here.

Contact:, NOS National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, (843) 762-8862.

Coral Reef Conservation: CRCP Sponsors 4th International Symposium on Deep-Sea Corals.

NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) is a major sponsor of the Deepsea Coral Symposium 2008: 4th International Symposium on Deep-Sea Corals, to be held in Wellington, New Zealand from December 1-5. The Symposium, which is the premier international forum for discussions on deep-sea coral, will bring together scientists, resource managers, students, and policy-makers from around the world to discuss their research results, information needs, collaborative opportunities, and management measures to better conserve and protect these fragile ecosystems. Several NOAA scientists and managers will be presenting deep-sea coral research and conservation efforts supported by NOAA. The Symposium will include presentations, workshops, and a poster session.

Contact:, NMFS Ecosystem Assessment Division, (301) 713-3459 x107.

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Ecosystem Research: November 16-20 - Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). Tampa, FL. POC - Gunnar Lauenstein at [CCMA]

Ecosystem Research: December 8-10, 2008 - Session. 9th National Conference on Science, Policy and the Environment, Washington, DC - NCCOS/CSCOR will have a Coral Reef Biodiversity Session. Invited speakers and breakout session will discuss the current state of knowledge about coral biodiversity, their decline, and stressors. In addition, current protective measures and innovative ideas to ensure future biodiversity will be examined. For more information on the conference, go to POC - Nathalie Valette-Silver at or Mike Dowgiallo at (CSCOR)

Ecosystem Research: December 8-18 - Annual Meeting - Participation in the annual meeting of the BIOMARES seagrass restoration project ongoing in the Portinho de Arribida, Portugal, supported by the European Union, Faro, Portugal. URL - POC - Mark Fonseca at [CCFHR]

Ecosystem Research: February 10-12, 2009 - West Coast Regional Harmful Algal Bloom Summit: This workshop, called for by the West CoastGovernors' Agreement on Ocean Health,will identify the research, management, and outreach priorities needed to lessen the impacts of West Coast HAB events on humans and critical marine resources. The Summit will result in a West Coast Regional HAB Monitoring, Alert, and Response Network and plans for a West Coast Regional HAB Forecast System. POC - Alan Lewitus at

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Aquaculture: Brian Fredieu Joins the Aquaculture Program

The NOAA Aquaculture Program recently welcomed Brian Fredieu, a new Program and Management Analyst, to the staff. Brian was appointed as a Presidential Management Fellow in 2008 and will serve the Aquaculture Program in that capacity for two years. In his role with the program, he will provide assistance with legislative and regulatory initiatives and help to coordinate budget and planning activities. His previous experience includes stormwater and ecosystem monitoring on the Buffalo Bayou in Houston, Texas, which was the basis of his undergraduate thesis. He also earned his J.D. with Vermont Law School and is near completion of his Master of Environmental Law and Policy with Vermont Law School. Brian also clerked with the Department of Justice Environmental Defense Section and NOAA General Counsel for Enforcement and Litigation.

Ecosystem Research: Nipa Parikh Detailed to Evaluate and Improve Software Applications

Nipa is joining NCCOS on a 90-day detail to assist us evaluating our application development capabilities. She will conduct a review of our overall IT software development projects and support throughout their life cycles, paying particular attention to gathering and defining requirements that meet NCCOS's science mission. To provide management with analysis and strategies to enhance the application support of research, Nipa will work with application and database developers, web designers, and network and database administrators. She will also contact our branch chiefs to help determine needs and areas for improvement. She will make site visits to Charleston, Beaufort, and Oxford to give her the opportunity to see some of the science we are supporting, and she will also send surveys to help gather information. Nipa has worked in NOAA/NOS/Special Projects for 17 years as a programmer, and has expertise is in developing web, GIS and .NET applications. If you have questions or comments, contact her at (301) 713-3038 x168 or

Ecosystem Research: NCCOS Headquarters Wishes Hal Stanford a Long, Happy Retirement

Harold Milford Stanford, an alumnus of Brown and Oregon State universities (Master of Chemical Oceanography), grew up in a small town in Ohio, but served his country at sea in the U.S. Navy and Naval Reserve. He began his tenure with NOAA's National Ocean Service (NOS) in 1974 when he was hired at the Stony Brook, NY Office of Marine Eco System Analysis, or MESA, New York Bight Project. Following that, Hal served elsewhere in NOAA and NOS during his long tenure as a civil servant, such as Deputy Director of the Office of Resource Conservation and Assessment (ORCA), one of the forerunners to the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), as well as Deputy Director and Acting Director of NCCOS's Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment. Hal recently came to NCCOS HQ as Business Operations Manager.

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Ecosystem Research: NCCOS Headquarters Welcomes Jyothi Sankuri to IT Team

After a long, hot summer without a web applications developer, NCCOS HQ is proud to announce the search is over. Jyothi Sankuri, who earned her Masters in Computer Science from Utah State University in 2007, will be teaming up with CCEHBR's Karl Phillips to develop NCCOS-wide processes and strategies for application support. As Aster Engineering employees, they will be improving the NCCOS Projects Database and Explorer (NPD and NPE), Weekly Reports Database, a new database for the Ecosystem Research Program, and numerous other applications. She describes herself as simple and friendly, and by all indications, she is that and more. For more information, contact Jyothi Sankuri at (301) 713-3020 or

Ecosystem Research: HML Director Retires after Many Years of Dedicated Service

Dr. Fred Holland, Director of the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science's (NCCOS) Center for Human Health Risk (CHHR) at the Hollings Marine Laboratory (HML), retired on September 30. He developed the HML Joint Project Agreement, supervised the building program, and implemented the lab's mission "to provide scientific basis for sustaining, protecting, and restoring coastal ecosystems, with an emphasis on linkages between environmental conditions and human health and well-being." The HML now achieves national and international recognition as a leader in many aspects of marine science research. On September 25, approximately 150 people attended a lunch in his honor, including NCCOS Deputy Director Alicia Jarboe, who presented Dr. Holland a plaque on NOAA's behalf. Several of his peers also praised him for his hard work and dedication to NCCOS, CHHR, and HML. Dr. Geoff Scott, Director of the NCCOS Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research, will serve as Acting Director for the Laboratory until a new Director is selected.

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Next Issue Guidance

The Newsletter is an email newsletter of the Ecosystem Goal Team highlighting accomplishments and activities. The Newsletter is produced every other month by the NOAA Ecosystem Goal Team staff to facilitate communication within NOAA and serve as a source of ecosystem information. The NOAA Ecosystem Goal Team supports effective management and sound science to promote an ecosystem approach to management.

Questions or comments? Contact Karen Eason, NOAA Ecosystem Goal Team, karen.eason@