Website highlights economic and ecological value of America's coast
NOAA's new State of the Coast website, an important source of on-line information for the nation's citizens and policymakers, incorporates data and findings from several researchers and research teams at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS).
The website, http://stateofthecoast.noaa.gov/, provides statistics, facts, and interactive visualizations about America's 95,000 miles of coastline. The site provides tools for better decision-making and for communicating the importance of healthy coastal ecosystems for a robust national economy and better quality of life.
The website's section on coastal ecosystems highlights the "dead zone" monitoring program of VIMS professor Bob Diaz, which tracks the number, size, and persistence of low-oxygen dead zones throughout the nation and world. Diaz's work documents at least 166 dead zones attributable to human activities along the U.S. coast, including the dead zone that forms in Chesapeake Bay each summer.
The website's section on the coastal economy uses case studies of striped bass and summer flounder to illustrate how sustainable management of recreational and commercial fisheries can benefit the nation's economy. Researchers at VIMS play a large role in collecting the data needed to assess the abundance of these and other species in Virginia's waters and to help guide their management by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. Both the VIMS Juvenile Fish Trawl Survey and the Chesapeake Bay Multispecies Monitoring and Assessment Program (ChesMMAP) are involved in these sampling and assessment efforts.
The website's section on coastal communities includes reference to the marine protected areas of the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve program at VIMS. CBNERRVA owns and manages four protected research reserves along the salinity gradient of the York River, from the freshwaters of Sweet Hall Marsh through the brackish waters of Taskinas Creek, the Catlett Islands, and the Goodwin Islands.
VIMS Dean and Director John Wells says "inclusion of data from VIMS researchers in NOAA's State of the Coast tool is further evidence of the national stature of our faculty and their research programs. Like VIMS research, the website operates at a nationwide level yet provides information and benefits locally as well."