National Ocean Council releases draft ocean policy implementation plan

Scientists, fishermen and the environmental community are applauding this month’s release of a draft National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan by the National Ocean Council and the Obama administration.

The plan, released last week, lays out more than 56 actions the federal government will take to improve the health of the nation’s oceans, coasts and Great Lakes.

“President Obama has displayed historic leadership in setting priorities to address the most pressing threats facing our oceans,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said. “Water is the lifeblood of our planet, and America’s treasured coasts and seas make up a significant part of Interior’s stewardship portfolio. Implementing this plan is a major priority for Interior and its agencies.”

Among other things, the draft calls for strengthening and integrating the nation’s network of ocean observing systems, sensors, data collection and management and mapping capabilities into a single national system, and integrating that system with international efforts. The council has already established as a prototype of the kind  tool that could make information easily available to everyone from scientists and policymakers to teachers and their students.

It also calls for ecosystem-based management approaches to fisheries and other ocean resources.  Where traditional management approaches typically focus on a single species or use, the draft notes, “ecosystems are complex, dynamic assemblages of diverse, interacting organisms, habitats, and environmental factors shaped by natural and human influences.”

Integrated information systems and ecosystem-based management were among the high-priority tools suggested by the West Coast Regional Ocean Research and Information Plan, developed in 2009 by Oregon Sea Grant and four other West Coast Sea Grant programs at the behest of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The new draft plan also calls for an investment in ocean literacy programs for America’s schools and universities,

The government is soliciting public comments on the plan through Feb. 27, 2012. To read the full plan and submit comments, visit

NOAA invites comment on scientific integrity policy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is inviting public comments on its new draft scientific integrity policy.

The policy incorporates the principles of scientific integrity contained in guidance from the White House, and addresses how NOAA ensures quality science in its practices and policies and promotes a culture of transparency, integrity and ethical behavior. The draft document is available on the agency’s Website for public comment through Aug. 15.

“Scientific integrity is at the core of producing and using good science,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., undersecretary for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “By being open and honest about our science, we build understanding and trust. This policy reflects the commitment I made when I first came to NOAA to strengthen science, ensure it is not misused or undermined, and base decisions on good science. This scientific integrity policy is about fostering an environment where science is encouraged, nurtured, respected, rewarded and protected.”

The policy contains the principles articulated in President Obama’s March 9, 2009, memorandum and further guidance provided by White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren.

The draft policy:

  • Lays out formal guidance with a “Code of Conduct”
  • Creates the conditions for enabling first-rate science and guarding against attempts to undermine, discredit or change it
  • States the key role of science in informing policy
  • Encourages scientists to publish data and findings to advance science, their careers and NOAA’s reputation for reliable science
  • Encourages NOAA scientists to be leaders in the scientific community
  • Provides whistle-blower protection
  • Applies to all NOAA employees and provides applicable policies for contractors and grantees who conduct, supervise, assess and/or interpret scientific information for the use of NOAA, the Department of Commerce and the nation
  • Includes a training component.

NOAA also seeks comments on an accompanying handbook that outlines procedures to respond to allegations of misconduct. Both draft documents can be found at Comments should be sent to

National Ocean Council to meet in Portland July 1

PORTLAND, OR – Members of the National Ocean Council will convene at Portland State University on July 1 for the last stop in their “regional listening sessions” tour of the US.

Experts from the Council’s 27 Federal agencies and offices have been busy drafting strategic action plans to achieve nine national priority objectives that address some of the most pressing challenges facing our ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes.  Having already received solicited and received initial comments on the plans, the council is asking for citizen comments on the strategic action plan outlines they have developed.

The Portland stop is the last of a dozen public listening sessions designed to gather further comments on the plans while they are still in the draft stage. The session will take place at PSU’s University Place, 310 SW Lincoln Street.

The PSU meeting, which will be chaired by NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco, runs from 9-11 am on July 1; those interested in attending are asked to preregister online.

The current strategic action plan drafts, covering priority areas from marine spatial planning to regional ecosystem protection and restoration, can be read at


Video: Great White Shark Necropsy

A new video is available documenting part of the public dissection of a 12-foot great white shark that was featured in an earlier blog post.  The shark died after becoming entangled in the ropes of a crab pot, but the shark’s death may mean educational benefits to scientists.

William Hanshumaker, a marine science educator at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, explains: “There are researchers from throughout the country who are interested in what we’re doing here and have requested sample materials…. This is also an opportunity for the public to observe first-hand this unique creature and how scientists conduct research and share information.”

The 2-minute video is a time-lapse sequence showing the fin removal portion of the necropsy.

Public invited to view great white shark dissection today

Great white shark thaws for necropsy

A 12-foot white shark—popularly known as a great white shark—that died in August after becoming entangled in the ropes of a crab pot, will become the focus of scientists this week during its dissection at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center.

The public is invited to view the necropsy, which will be performed over two days.

“It is a shame that the shark became entangled in the ropes and died, but the specimen still has a great deal of scientific and educational value,” said William Hanshumaker, the OSU center’s marine education specialist, who is coordinating the necropsy. “Top predators such as this are difficult to study and we don’t know a lot about where they migrate or breed.”

Hanshumaker, who also is a faculty member for Sea Grant Extension at OSU, will remove the shark from the freezer today (Thursday, October 1, 2009) and put it on public display in a roped-off section of the HMSC’s Visitor’s Center beginning at 10 a.m. Visitors may observe the shark via video camera in the Hennings Auditorium—including necropsy activities, which begin late this afternoon.

At 4:30 p.m. today, Dr. Brion Benninger, of the Neurological Sciences Institute at Oregon Health & Science University, will remove the shark’s spinal accessory nerve, where it will be used in OHSU neurological studies.

Tomorrow (Friday, October 2) a series of procedures is planned. Wade Smith, a doctoral student at OSU specializing in shark studies, will conduct measurements of the shark beginning at 11 a.m., and discuss his findings with a fishery biology class taught by OSU professor Scott Heppell. At 1 p.m., OSU students from two classes will examine the shark and hear experts present information on shark diversity, the white shark’s biology and movements, its unique features, and conservation issues.

At 2 p.m., Tim Miller-Morgan of OSU will examine the shark for external parasites, and at 2:30 p.m., Hanshumaker will measure the animal’s teeth and bite impression. At 3 p.m., Smith will conclude the dissection by collecting biological materials, the vertebra, muscle tissue, the dorsal fin and teeth—all of which have scientific value.

“There are researchers from throughout the country who are interested in what we’re doing here and have requested sample materials,” Hanshumaker said. “This also is an opportunity for the public to observe first-hand this unique creature and how scientists conduct research and share information.”

Samples from the white shark will be sent to: Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station; Alaska Department of Fish and Game; University of California-Santa Cruz; California State University-Long Beach; Monterey Bay Aquarium; and Nova Southeastern University.

The samples will provide data for studies ranging from genetics to toxicology, to age and growth data.

(Edited from a news release written by Mark Floyd, OSU News Service, and published online Wednesday, September 30, at

(photo by Julie Howard, HMSC)

West Coast research planning document up for public comment

A draft report on ocean and coastal research and information needs on the West Coast is available for public review and comment from the Oregon Sea Grant Web site.  The deadline for comments is Jan. 16, 2009

The report, developed by Sea Grant programs in Oregon, Washington and California after extensive public involvement,  is available for download in .pdf format, along with background documents including more than 5,000 marine research and information recommendations made by stakeholders in public meetings and on line.

Read more …