Alaska’s Economy Depends On Ocean Science And Technology

2019-08-28T17:22:44+00:00 September 22, 2017|
Photo credit: NASA/Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: NASA/Wikimedia Commons

The Consortium for Ocean Leadership’s President and CEO, RADM Jonathan White (Ret.), and President of the Marine Technology Society, Donna Kocak, wrote an article on the economic importance of ocean technology and science in Alaska.

(From Juneau Empire/ by Jon White and Donna Kocak) — When considering the importance of our national maritime economy, it’s hard to miss the connections between Alaska and the ocean. Alaska has the longest coastline in the U.S., and the busiest water for commercial fishing in the world. Anchorage was the second largest contributor to our nation’s Gross Domestic Product in the mineral sector in 2014. In that same year, employment across the ocean economy grew by 3.3 percent, compared to only 0.4 percent growth broadly across the state. Alaska and the blue economy are inextricably linked, each dependent on the other.

Alaskans know better than anyone that the stability and growth of our overall economy is tied closely to the ocean. Projections show growth in the ocean economy outpacing the global economy, doubling its contribution to global value from $1.5 trillion in 2010 to $3 trillion in 2030. But a strong ocean economy doesn’t just happen — it is dependent on foundational knowledge of the sea and its processes, as well as remarkable leaps forward in technology. If we didn’t understand tides, storms, ice, seas, and currents to the extent that we do today, or if the ALVIN had never been invented to explore the ocean, there’s little chance the nation would have seen such an economic boom (like maritime traffic quadrupling in the last quarter century). And if we cannot continue to leverage technological advancements to enhance our understanding of important ocean changes, we will lose out on the potential of the blue economy.

A critical part of building and improving our knowledge of the ocean and its impacts is ocean observation and the ships that enable such monitoring. When the USS Albatross, the first research vessel built specifically for marine research, was commissioned in 1882, few onboard could likely have imagined the state of our expanded ocean knowledge today – let alone the dozens of research vessels spanning several federal agencies in use currently. What does our future hold for ocean research vessels? Will oceanographic research expand to commercial vessels, complementing the federal investment?

Even today, with our ability to remotely gather information from…

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Also ran in Asia’s Maritime Security