WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today announced that the Senate has unanimously passed his legislation to reauthorize the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). The legislation, S.1425, was cleared last year by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
“This system provides critical, real-time data about our oceans,” Wicker said. “Mississippians have already seen the benefits of increased investment in this system, with more sensors deployed on the Gulf Coast and better data collection providing a constant stream of information to the people who make use of our ports, beaches, waterways, and wetlands. I look forward to seeing the continued success of this program and its benefit to our growing and vibrant maritime economy.”
Wicker’s legislation, the “Coordinated Ocean Monitoring and Research Act” would renew federal support for IOOS through fiscal year 2021 and authorize up to $40.2 million annually for the program. IOOS is a network of 17 federal partners and 11 regional associations that collects data to support national defense, search-and-rescue operations, marine commerce, navigation safety, weather forecasting, energy siting and production, economic development, and coastal ecosystem management.
Wicker has repeatedly supported better ocean data collection policies in the Gulf of Mexico. In July, Wicker introduced the “Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act” to encourage the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop partnerships that improve its recreational fishing data collection and work to incorporate non-federal data, which is often better than traditional data streams.
In addition to renewing federal support for IOOS, the bill would, among other provisions:
- Install NOAA as the lead federal agency for the implementation of IOOS, and to oversee daily operations and coordination of IOOS;
- Establish a process for regional associations to certify their regional coastal observing systems;
- Invest in autonomous unmanned underwater and surface ocean research vehicles; and
- Prioritize closing gaps in high frequency radar, a system that plays a critical role in protecting public health and safety, and assisting Coast Guard search and rescue operations.