Andrew Riech, Second from the right. Photo courtesy Carl Gouldman.

Andrew Riech, Second from the right. Photo courtesy Carl Gouldman.

On 26 February 2015, Andrew Reich, Program Coordinator of the Aquatic Toxins Disease Prevention Program – Public Health Section at the Florida Department of Health, participated in a Congressional Briefing on the many public health and safety benefits of the U.S. IOOS.

The briefing, sponsored by the U.S. IOOS Program Office and the IOOS Association, addressed how science-based observations are aiding search and rescue, homeland security, maritime commerce, and mitigating the impacts of harmful algal blooms (HABs) along the heavily populated U.S. coasts.

Dr. Russell Callender, Acting Assistant Administrator of NOAA’s National Ocean Service, moderated the panel, which included:

  • Dr. Ru Morrison (Northeast Regional Association) – Overview of the U.S. IOOS;
  • Dr. Scott Glenn (Rutgers University) – Applications for search and rescue; homeland security;
  • Captain David Gelinas (Penobscot Bay and River Pilots) – Maritime Commerce;
  • Dr. Kris Lynch (Shell Exploration and Production Company); and
  • Mr. Andrew Reich (Florida Department of Public Health) – Mitigating the effects of Harmful Algal Blooms.

Andrew Reich, former lead of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association’s Public Health and Safety Task Team, which focuses on identifying and improving coastal ocean observations needed to protect public health, gave an informative presentation on using ocean observations to mitigate the impacts of HABs along the Florida coast. Mr. Reich noted the importance of Florida’s beaches to the state’s economy and the potential threats to public health from the different types of algae blooms. In his presentation, Mr. Reich cited the NOAA HAB Bulletin (http://co-ops.nos.noaa.gov/hab/bulletins.html ) that informs citizens, visitors, and decision makers the location and movement of HABs. He cited the bulletin as a key tool to minimize impacts and keep people healthy during HAB events.

To learn more about the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System and its Gulf of Mexico regional component, the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System, visit http://www.ioos.noaa.gov and http://www.gcoos.org .

Banner image courtesy Carl Gouldman, NOAA.