NOAA 2002-043
Contact: Bob Hopkins
NOAA News Releases 2002
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U.S. Agenda to Focus on Global Ocean Observing Systems, International Cooperation

The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today announced that Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr., USN (Ret.), Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator will head the U.S. delegation to the first APEC Oceans Ministerial Meeting being held April 22-26 in Seoul, South Korea.

"The APEC Oceans meeting provides a unique and valuable context in which to discuss ocean issues and to make our priorities for action clear," said Lautenbacher. "I look forward to working with my fellow ministers to set global ocean priorities that recognize the vital role of our ocean resources in economic and environmental security"

Admiral Lautenbacher's goals for the meeting include gaining support for expanding global ocean and climate observing systems that play a key role in providing data to forecast long range climate events such as El Niño. It was largely due to existing observation systems that NOAA scientists were able to forecast a new El Niño event projected to take place this summer. Lautenbacher will also call for a broader ecosystem-based approach to managing marine resources that provides for sustainable fishing practices and recognizes the vital role of protecting coral reef areas and essential marine habitat.

"The meeting is an opportunity to gain regional commitments to protect marine resources and establish scientific cooperation that will support continued economic growth," Lautenbacher said. "Our goal is to develop a framework for the management of ocean resources that will be a model for the world to follow."

The meeting agenda will address sustainable fisheries, ocean science, marine environmental protection and integrated coastal management as well as a discussion of shared interests going into the World Summit for Sustainable Development to take place August 26 - September 4 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The First APEC Oceans Ministerial Meeting will address ocean issues and concerns. A key end product will be to develop a strong statement to the APEC Leaders meeting taking place later this year Los Cabos, Mexico on the importance of oceans as an essential element of sustainable economic development for this region and the world.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum consists of 21 member economies including all the economies of the Asia-Pacific region and the most dynamic and fastest-growing economies in the world. APEC members have a combined Gross Domestic Product of over $16 trillion and account for 42% of world trade. APEC has become the primary vehicle in the region to promote open trade and economic cooperation.

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