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Marine Resources


March 2014 Issue

NOAA Selects Guam, Hawaii Sites as Habitat Focus Areas
NOAA has selected two sites in the Pacific Islands region as the next Habitat Focus Areas under NOAA's Habitat Blueprint. The Manell-Geus watershed in Guam and West Hawaii (on the Big Island) have been singled out as places where NOAA can maximize habitat conservation investments to benefit marine resources and coastal communities.

The Manell-Geus and West Hawaii focus areas both contain valuable habitat that natural resources and communities depend on. This effort will promote the exchange of ideas and transfer of best management practices between the two sites.

The Manell-Geus watershed—on the southern tip of Guam—contains extensive seagrass beds and coral reefs. These habitats support sea turtles and the local village's strong fishing tradition. However, the reefs are impacted by poor water quality, which is linked to erosion on the steep hillsides and stream banks. Conservation projects are underway at this site, including efforts to develop and test restoration techniques to stabilize the stream banks and provide erosion control. With this designation as a Habitat Focus Area, NOAA and partners will provide training and implementation of conservation action and watershed management plans.

The leeward—or west—side of the Big Island of Hawaii is known for white sandy beaches and coral reefs that make it a popular tourist destination for snorkeling, diving, and fishing. The beautiful beaches and reefs are also home to endangered or threatened animals, including Hawaiian monk seals, humpback whales, and green sea turtles. However, these and many other precious natural resources are threatened by drought, fire, invasive species and development. The goals for Habitat Focus Areas include: sustainable and abundant fish populations, recovered threatened and endangered species, protected coastal and marine areas and habitats at risk, resilient coastal communities, and increased coastal/marine tourism, access and recreation.

Next steps for Hawaii and Guam include developing implementation plans for each area. NOAA will also begin the selection process for the next Habitat Focus Areas in other U.S. regions.

New Guidance on Use of PAM for Geophysical Operations
The International Association of Geophysical Contractors (IAGC) has released new Guidance on the Use of Towed Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) during geophysical operations. IAGC has taken steps to inform the geophysical industry and has developed recommended guidance for PAM use and reporting.

As part of the efforts to minimize the very low potential impact on the marine environment, the geophysical industry takes a variety of measures for purposes of monitoring and mitigation. When used in the most optimized way, PAM can be an effective measure to detect marine mammals near seismic vessels.

PAM employs the use of a hydrophone array pulled behind a seismic vessel to detect the presence of vocalizing marine mammals, and software technology that allows the data to be analyzed as it is collected. In addition to visual observers, PAM can be a useful monitoring tool, particularly during low or impaired surface visibility conditions.

The IAGC Guidance on the Use of Towed Passive Acoustic Monitoring during Geophysical Operations was developed to maximize the operational performance of PAM systems during geophysical surveys. It was prepared by IAGC member company volunteers, using their experience and expertise to provide the industry with useful information for implementing PAM systems.

PAMGuard software is free and open to use.

Carib Tails Invites Citizen Science From Stellwagen to Caribbean
Yachters and sailors are invited to help scientists track the movements of endangered humpback whales between NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and its sister sanctuaries across the Caribbean as part of Carib Tails, a new international citizen science effort.

Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary encompasses 842 square miles of ocean, stretching between Cape Ann and Cape Cod offshore of Massachusetts.

Carib Tails is a collaboration between the sanctuary and partners at Marine Mammal Sanctuary of the Dominican Republic, Agoa Marine Mammal Sanctuary/French Antilles, Bermuda Marine Mammal Sanctuary, the marine mammal sanctuaries of the Windward and Leeward Dutch Antilles, and the United Nations Caribbean Environment Program's Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife Program (UNEP/SPAW).

By photographing the tails of humpbacks they encounter at sea, boaters can support on-going research to collect migration data on the shared population of approximately 1,000 humpbacks. Photographs will be matched to entries in the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalog and images of previously unknown and unphotographed whales will be added to the collection.

The project stresses safe boating and viewing practices around these endangered animals, which includes not approaching within 100 yards of the whales, and federal regulations apply. A dedicated website, http://caribtails.org, provides tips on how to photograph flukes for research purposes, photo submission forms and other information about humpback whales. Photographs of humpback flukes have allowed researchers to monitor the movements, health and behavior of individual animals.

Keppel in Singapore Joins World Ocean Council
Keppel Offshore and Marine Ltd. (Keppel O&M), based in Singapore, has become a member of the World Ocean Council (WOC). Keppel O&M joins a growing number of companies from a wide range of industries that are distinguishing themselves as members of the international business leadership alliance on ocean sustainability, science and stewardship.

Keppel O&M brings Singapore's considerable maritime experience and expertise to the WOC and adds significantly to the increasing number of important firms from the Asia-Pacific region joining the WOC.


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