NOAA 2002-029
Contact: Kent Laborde
NOAA News Releases 2002
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The potential annual economic benefits of a planned coastal and ocean observing system for the Gulf of Maine could exceed $30 million, according to a new study commissioned by the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Navy's Office of Naval Research.

The Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System (GoMOOS) would use the latest observing and information technologies to produce and transmit real-time or near-real-time, continuous observations of winds, currents, and other information about the Gulf of Maine.

GoMOOS is being developed under the auspices of the National Oceanographic Partnership Program, an organization of federal agencies, industry, and academic groups charged by Congress with addressing national needs such as ocean observing systems. The NOPP Leadership Council is co-chaired by Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator, retired Navy VADM Conrad C. Lautenbacher.

"Advanced observing systems like GoMOOS are critical to the nation because they enhancing our ability to make better decisions about life and safety while providing significant economic benefits," Lautenbacher said.

The NOAA/Navy sponsored study was undertaken by Dr. Hauke Kite-Powell at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's Marine Policy Center and Professor Charles Colgan at the University of Southern Maine.

The overall amounts of dollar benefits were determined by examining the five major user groups of GoMOOS information and how they would benefit from products originating from the new observing system. They include:

Search And Rescue (SAR) - ECONOMIC BENEFIT = $24 MILLION
For the nearly 6,000 missions each year, time to reach the target is critical. Better real-time information on currents and winds results in an improvement in SAR effectiveness from 93 percent to 94 percent, and savings of 6 additional lives each year in the Gulf of Maine.

Fisheries Management - ECONOMIC BENEFIT = $4 MILLION
Improved ocean observations and information can contribute to better management both in state and federal waters that can increase the number of productive days at sea. With better information about the marine environment, fishery scientists may be able to develop better predictive models of fishery populations, thereby better adjusting permitted fishing effort, and increasing allowable catches. One additional commercial fishing day per year for the Gulf of Maine fishing fleet is worth approximately $4 million.

Recreational Boating and Fishing - ECONOMIC BENEFIT = $4 MILLION
Better information about local weather and sea conditions, which varies greatly throughout a region as large as the Gulf of Maine, can improve the quantity and quality of time on the water, as well as safety for participants. One additional recreational fishing day per year in the Gulf of Maine is worth approximately $4 million.

Accident Prevention and Oil Spill Cleanup and Mitigation - ECONOMIC BENEFIT = $750,000
Better ocean observations can reduce the overall cost of oil pollution incidents from over 2,000 annual oil tanker and barge transits in the Gulf. The cost reduction is derived from improved deployment of oil-spill clean-up equipment. Any improvements would depend on reliable oil-spill trajectory models, which, in turn, depend heavily on current and weather observations. A one percent reduction in oil spill volume represents an avoided cost of $750,000 annually for the Gulf of Maine.

Commercial Shipping - ECONOMIC BENEFIT = $500,000
Improved ocean observation information on currents, winds, and waves to choose optimal routes and avoid hazardous conditions would facilitate better passage and reduce risk. A five percent saving in annual commercial ship operating costs in the Gulf of Maine represents about $500,000.

Efforts to develop sustained ocean observing systems are underway at the global, regional, national, and sub-national levels. An international coordinating organization for the Global Ocean Observing System was formed in 1991. The U.S. portion of GOOS is under the auspices of the National Oceanographic Partnership Program.

The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources.

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