Tribal Partnership a Model for Ocean Governance
The sanctuary program enjoys a relationship with Native Americans that is unique among national marine sanctuaries. By treaty, the Quinault Nation, Hoh Tribe, Quileute Tribe and Makah Tribe have rights to many sanctuary marine resources and a strong interest in managing these resources. To provide a forum for discussing ocean management in the sanctuary, program staff worked with the coastal tribes and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission to discuss the intent and proposed structure for an intergovernmental and tribal policy council. The council includes the state of Washington as well as the four coastal tribes. A memorandum of agreement, signed earlier this year, launched this important forum for ocean policy.
Deep Sea Coral Exploration Yields New Findings
In June, NOAA researchers returned from a 10-day deep-water coral expedition with dramatic evidence of sponge and coral communities in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. The project found colonies of the rare stony coral Lophelia, numerous other coral species and a rich abundance of invertebrates and fishes, including commercially important rockfish. Deep sea corals and sponges have been identified as a priority research topic for NOAA based on the unique assemblage of species supported and their vulnerability to human activities such as bottom trawling and seafloor disturbances.
The cruise aboard the McArthur II, used a remotely operated vehicle to photo-document sponge/coral communities and collect specimens. Results of the cruise are being analyzed in order to guide the sanctuary and fisheries managers as they develop protection measures. The project, conducted in collaboration with NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration, and National Center for Coastal Ocean Science, also yielded education and outreach materials that are available on the sanctuary Web site.
Eyes in the Water: Researchers Catch Low Oxygen Conditions
Using sophisticated sensors mounted on buoys, sanctuary scientists observed several cases this summer where oxygen in the ocean dipped to dangerously low levels, affecting marine life. The news made headlines in Oregon and Washington this year when fishermen began reporting dead crabs in crab pots and coastal residents found dead fish littering their beaches. Staff installed the sensors in May to detect low oxygen levels believed to harm dungeness crab, rockfish and other marine life. Other instruments on the buoys provided data to check upwelling of nutrient-rich waters, plankton concentrations that may carry biotoxins, and water circulation patterns in waters out to 300 feet. When researchers analyzed the data, they pinpointed sharp dips in dissolved-oxygen levels that corresponded to the reported fish and crab kills. Sanctuary staff will summarize the annual monitoring results, provide the information to research partners and managers, and continue monitoring in 2007 to determine if this year’s results indicate a consistent trend or represent an unusual event.
NOAA Teams With Canadian Government on Spill Response Drill
NOAA and the Canadian Government held a major oil spill drill in the sanctuary to test spill response capabilities of U.S. and Canadian agencies in the event of a natural or man-made catastrophe. These drills are held every two years near the U.S. and Canadian border and are designed to improve spill readiness and learn more about equipment requirements necessary to handle large scale oil spills in open water conditions.
Fiber Optic Cable Laid to Rest
Pacific Crossing and its contractor Tyco completed reinstallation of fiber optic cables within the sanctuary. The cable provides telecommunication service between the western United States and Japan. The reinstallation was necessary because the original cable installation in 1999 and 2000 did not meet the terms and conditions of the sanctuary permit. The cable placement project resolves six years of dispute between the cable companies and NOAA. Sanctuary staff worked as observers on the cable and monitoring ships as the cable was replaced.
Plans for 2007
Sanctuary Atlas MapsNew sanctuary atlas maps depicting physical ocean and land features, other state and federal managed areas and parks, and other basic atlas features are now available on the sanctuary program Web site.
Click here to view print version. (pdf, 804K)