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Volume 3, Number 1
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New Rip Current Web Site

Summer is off to a somber start in southeast this year. In May alone, three drowning-related deaths in Florida have been blamed on rip currents, fast-flowing cells of water that move offshore. To raise beachgoer awareness, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in partnership with the United States Lifesaving Association and the National Sea Grant College, kicked off a nationwide campaign on May 24 to communicate critical safety information.

A key component of the campaign is a new website from NOAA's National Weather Service, Break the Grip of the Rip, that provides real time safety information on surf height and rip current risk for eight sites on the Atlantic Ocean, ranging south from New Jersey to Florida, three sites on the Gulf Coast, and three sites on the Pacific Ocean. The site also aims to inform swimmers about rip currents, how to recognize them, and how to survive them safely if encountered. It emphasizes the importance of going with the flow and not fighting the current. "Think of it like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of," the site advises. The website is complemented by a nationally-standardized sign for beach communities and a brochure that will be available in both English and Spanish.

Rip Currents: Break the Grip of the Rip!
Download the Poster (pdf, 570kb) & Brochure (pdf, 5.2MB)

Preliminary Report of the U.S. Commission On Ocean Policy

Ocean Policy Commission Releases Preliminary Report

That the oceans are in serious trouble is the clear message of a recently released preliminary report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. Made public on April 20, the report calls for action to be taken now to reverse serious declines in water quality and a host of problems, including loss of habitat and living marine resources, plaguing U.S. coastal and ocean waters. It recommends enhancing and radically changing approaches to cooperation and coordination at the federal, state and local levels and stresses the need for ecosystem-based management.

Other major recommendations propose restructuring U.S. ocean governance, including establishing a National Ocean Council within the Executive Office of the President, strengthening the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and increasing spending on marine research and education. Overall, the report estimates costs for reversing declines and restoring the nation's coasts and oceans at about $4 billion annually, and suggests these funds could come from existing offshore oil and gas leasing activities that occur within U.S. coastal and shelf waters.

The report has some good news for the Chesapeake Bay as it endorses many of the goals set forth in Chesapeake 2000, the blueprint for Bay management. Regional oversight and management of coastal watersheds are valuable, according to the report, and coordinated efforts such as those currently working in the Chesapeake are important models for how U.S. coasts should be managed. The Sea Grant College program is cited several times in the report as an important and successful mechanism for bridging the gap between ocean research and education, and additional support for this program is urged.

The full report is available at http://oceancommission.gov/.

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