Review&Forecast – Sea Technology Magazine, January 2019

2019-04-08T13:28:32+00:00 April 8, 2019|

Increasing Our Ocean Security: How A Healthy Ocean Benefits Us All

(By RADM Jonathan White, U.S. Navy (Ret.) / From Sea Technology, Jan. 2019

In 2017, I started talking about ocean security, or the concept that our national, homeland, energy, food, water and economic securities, as well as our public health and safety, depend on a healthy ocean—which in turn depends on ocean science and technology. Unfortunately, 2018 provided plenty of concrete examples where ocean security impacted lives and prosperity: Hurricanes and wildfires (driven by oceanic conditions) threatened national, homeland and economic security on the U.S. East and West Coasts; harmful algal blooms caused respiratory issues and economic losses off Florida’s Gulf Coast; and the ever-growing collection of plastics in the ocean continued to accumulate and threaten the ocean’s health. Over the past year, the Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL) has redoubled our commitment to increasing ocean security throughout our programs, events and advocacy.

Food and Economic Security

During our 2018 industry forum, “U.S. Offshore Aquaculture: Will We Fish or Cut Bait,” diverse stakeholders explored whether or not the United States should join other nations and pursue offshore finfish aquaculture, and what would be needed to do so. Ensuring the food security of our growing global population while increasing the health and resilience of our global fisheries is critical, and many have presented offshore aquaculture as one solution. The proceedings from this forum will be released in early 2019.

During 2018, ocean plastics and marine debris became part of the public consciousness like never before. In June, COL played a key role in in bringing the Ocean Plastics Lab—an international traveling exhibit and hands-on education tool—to the United States for the first time. Thousands of visitors interacted with the exhibit

on D.C.’s National Mall and learned about the scientific and technological capabilities that help us understand and address the problem. COL also hosted a Congressional briefing, in conjunction with the House Oceans Caucus, titled “The Ocean Plastic Pollution Problem: Solvable With Science, Innovation, and Education,” where experts from academia, industry and aquaria spoke to a standing-room only crowd about potential solutions.

Homeland Security

The National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) celebrated its 21st successful year, with the 2018 Finals theme of “Our Ocean Shaping Weather.”

Although advances in ocean science capabilities are improving resiliency against weather hazards, some students experienced the relationship between ocean science and homeland security firsthand when two regional competitions were cancelled due to impacts from a well-forecast Hurricane Harvey. The NOSB community showed their mettle in the face of hardship, inviting affected teams to participate in another regional competition and raising funds to help cover travel costs.

Ocean security doesn’t just happen on its own; it takes concerted, interdisciplinary efforts. While our activities described above highlight the importance of these securities that make up ocean security, we also did work around individual components that are necessary to strengthen ocean security.

Advancing Partnerships

In March, our annual public policy forum, “Power of Partnerships: Advancing Ocean Science and Tech,” brought together more than 200 individuals from federal agencies, NGOs, academia, industry and Congress to discuss how interagency and public-private partnerships must further the ocean science and technology enterprise.

Leveraging the power of interdisciplinary science and cross-sector collaboration are key to ensuring a safe, healthy and navigable ocean that supports communities across the globe.

Enhancing Ocean Observations

In October, COL turned over operations and management of the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) to a coalition

of academic and oceanographic research institutions headed by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. After carrying OOI from design through construction and into operations, we look forward to helping steer the continued scientific advancements that will be derived from this groundbreaking program.


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