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Science for a Healthy Ocean

Seeking Public Input on National Ocean Research in the Next Decade.

The ocean plays a central role in the global cycles that sustain all life on Earth. It provides the primary source of food for nearly half of the world’s population, contributes hundreds of billions of dollars to the global economy, regulates climate, and serves as a sink for carbon dioxide. Yet, the ocean and its resources are vulnerable to human activities that reduce their overall health, leading to environmental, cultural, and economic losses. Therefore, it is critically important to improve understanding of how pollution and ocean acidification degrade marine ecosystems, how habitat loss destabilizes marine populations and overfishing compromises food security.

In 2007, the United States’ first comprehensive research-priorities plan for the ocean “Charting the Course for Ocean Science for the United States for the Next Decade was released. Since then, the ocean community has advanced ocean technologies, discovered new marine species, observed and tracked unexpected environmental changes, and answered important questions about how the ocean works. More is now known about the ocean, its processes, and the life it contains than ever before. Society continues, however, to be confronted with issues that highlight what we have yet to learn about the ocean and its role in the economic, environmental, cultural, and social health of the Nation. The need to better understand and address the rapid changes in ocean conditions and their impacts has never been greater.

Ocean Research Vessel Sagar Kanya and an Atlas bouy. (Photo Credit: NOAA)
Ocean Research Vessel Sagar Kanya and an Atlas bouy. (Photo Credit: NOAA)

To address these pressing ocean issues and seize the most promising areas of research within the ocean science and technology (S&T) enterprise, the Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology (SOST), under the Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability of the National Science and Technology Council, is initiating, in coordination with the National Ocean Council, development of an ocean-research plan to lay out priorities for future marine studies: “Ocean Research in the Coming Decade.” The purpose of the Plan is to guide the Nation’s support over the next decade of scientific research, technology, and innovation to further understanding of the ocean and its relationship with society. Application of the resulting knowledge will allow for sustainable use of marine resources while maintaining ocean health. The Plan will be informed by and in alignment with the broader ocean S&T community and the science-based information needs of resource managers, policy-makers, educators, communities, and stakeholders.

The SOST invites all interested parties to provide input relevant to the Nation’s ocean S&T enterprise. Suggestions directed toward how the Plan should be structured and specific topic areas that should be considered for inclusion in the Plan are particularly encouraged.

To provide input, visit the Federal Register Notice for additional information on the public input period, which is open until January 1, 2017.

For more information on the Plan and to view the prospectus, visit General inquiries may be directed to