NCCOS Conducts Research in Sanctuary Waters

In 1999, under the direction of Dr. Nancy Foster, a partnership was formed between the National Marine Sanctuary Program and NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS).

The Partnership Goal

The goal of the partnership is to effectively manage the nation’s sanctuaries by using the best available science and utilizing NOAA research capabilities embodied in NCCOS to assist in meeting this goal.

This partnership now encompasses many integrated research and management activities that exist far beyond the original agreement, demonstrating an evolution of the partnership into a highly focused and applied program. This partnership allows for a co-evolution of management needs and research response.

Science-Based Management

Scientists involved in the partnership are working to refine the sanctuary program’s science-based management program by providing a research perspective in the formulation of the management goals. Scientists have begun the process of supporting the application of sanctuary management goals by both designing and implementing new research projects and integrating ongoing studies into this mission.

As the results of these projects mature, scientists will evaluate the effectiveness of the research activities in supporting these requirements, and utilize these data to provide defensible, peer-reviewed and thus, science-based recommendations regarding the consequences of management actions on sanctuary resources and management goals.

Research and Education

Through this partnership scientists will monitor environmental changes and natural events in sanctuary waters. Educators will work to improve public understanding of coastal ecosystems by incorporating research findings into education programs designed to conserve, protect, and enhance coastal ecosystem resources.

The following three categories of research are currently the primary focus of the National Marine Sanctuary Program’s partnership with NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science.

Characterization
By 2008 the National Marine Sanctuary Program and NCCOS will develop descriptions of all sanctuaries' resources for the future detection of significant changes. In some cases, characterization of selected resources will allow hypotheses to be tested regarding the source of those changes and to determine whether sanctuary goals are being met.

Monitoring
Within five years, all sanctuaries will have monitoring programs that can detect change in the status of selected resources, in certain cases at a scale that provides the basis for testing hypotheses and predicting consequences of those changes to sanctuary ecosystems under both management action and inaction. Application of forecasting techniques and technology that utilize this monitoring information will be emphasized.

Anticipatory Science
A limited, but consistent effort will be made to develop and test new technologies and techniques for monitoring the health of marine systems and predicting future status based on understanding of ecosystems and the processes that control them.

Additional Information

For more information, please visit the ONMS-NCCOS LTA portion of the NCCOS website.

Program Managers
Dr. Mark Fonseca (NCCOS)
Dr. Steve Gittings (ONMS)

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