Last updated: 26 August 2014

Prior to the formation of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Regional Association (GCOOS-RA), this Resolution was the guiding document. This information is for historical reference only. Please see the Memorandum of Agreement for the current governing document.


Because of its strategic importance in terms of natural resources, commerce, transportation, and military operations, the Gulf of Mexico has been referred to as the “Mediterranean of the Americas.” Its diversity, beauty, and quality of life draw both residents and tourists. The 1999 estimated population of the five Gulf states was 46.7 million, increasing about 5% annually. The Gulf tourist industry encompasses tens of thousands of jobs worth over $20 billion annually. The Gulf’s commercial fishery produced 1.8 billion pounds of fish and shellfish in 2000 with dockside value over $990 million. Shrimp landings in the Gulf account for about 80% of the nation’s total. Gulf oyster production accounts for about 60% of the national total in terms of poundage. Gulf recreational fishing generates almost 30% of U.S. saltwater fishing expenditure; 23% of U.S. saltwater recreational jobs are on the Gulf of Mexico. Because the Gulf is the major drainage basin for the contiguous states (33 of the 48 states), it is stressed by pollution, nutrient loading, and other problems unique to its ecosystems. Harmful algal blooms, habitat loss, invasive species, and hypoxic (low oxygen) conditions are four major ecosystem threats. Thirty-eight percent of the nation’s petroleum reserves and 48% of its natural gas reserves are found in the Gulf. The Gulf accounts for over 93% of the U.S. offshore oil and gas production; deepwater (water depths greater than 1000 ft) oil production increased 1200% from 1985 to 2001. Of the nation’s top ten ports in terms of tonnage or cargo value, seven are located in the Gulf of Mexico; of the top seven global ports, two are located in the Gulf. Natural hazards such as hurricanes in summer and extratropical cyclones generated in winter by cold air outbreaks threaten all of these activities.

The Congress of the United States has asked that the cabinet-level National Ocean Leadership Council (NOLC) prepare a plan to implement an integrated ocean and coastal observing system and that the President submit the plan as part of his FY 2004 budget. The Congress has directed that such a plan include the development of “integrated regional systems” along with a “Federal Backbone” as vital components of a national system. The National Ocean Leadership Council has made the implementation of an integrated ocean observing system a high priority. It is recognized that the Federal Backbone, such as that operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shall expand to provide the needed infrastructure and support to the integration of the Regional Observing Systems.

In the coming decade, a national, integrated ocean observing system will become operational. Information from this system will serve national needs for the following:

  • Detecting and forecasting oceanic components of climate variability
  • Facilitating safe and efficient marine operations
  • Ensuring national security
  • Managing resources for sustainable use
  • Preserving and restoring healthy marine ecosystems
  • Mitigating natural hazards
  • Ensuring public health

The NOLC’s program office, Ocean.US, is drafting an implementation plan (Ocean.US, 2002) for an integrated ocean observing system that includes as one of the system’s key elements a federation of regional coastal ocean observing systems with sustained funding. A significant number of observing system efforts already exist in the coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and these systems can add greatly to the goal of an integrated national ocean observing system. It is in the vital interest of these systems to organize themselves in order to have a voice in the development of the rules and procedures that will govern a National Federation of Regional Coastal Ocean Observing Systems. It is in the vital interest of these systems to be prepared to effectively utilize funds that may be appropriated in the future as part of a national ocean observing system. It is appropriate to begin discussion of the responsibilities and benefits of establishing a regional observing system for the Gulf of Mexico to participate in the National Federation.

Now, therefore, the undersigned parties resolve as follows:


To establish a Gulf of Mexico Regional Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) as an element of an integrated, sustained ocean observing system for the U.S. Coastal Ocean.


The Signatories to this Resolution: 1) are actively engaged in some aspect of coastal ocean observing systems in the Gulf of Mexico or 2) are principal end-users of data, products, and services from coastal ocean observing systems in the Gulf of Mexico. Signatories may include but are not limited to research institutions, port or harbor authorities, water management districts, non-governmental organizations, local government agencies, state agencies, federal agencies, private industry, or other entities with these characteristics.


The Signatories hereby resolve to work together towards establishment of a Gulf of Mexico Regional Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS); to work toward development of regional governance structures and coordination; to work towards common data management standards; and to openly share non-proprietary data and metadata, non-commerical data and products, model code, and related information. GCOOS will not compete with the private sector because it will not distribute commercial products and services, which are those produced by commercial enterprises. The Signatories will actively seek collaborations with other nations bordering the Gulf of Mexico in the design and implementation of this regional observing system. The Signatories will work toward implementation of specific action items decided upon at the workshop held at Stennis Space Center, Mississippi, January 14-15, 2003, a summary of which is included herein by reference.


Nothing herein shall be construed in any way as limiting the authority of individual Signatories in carrying out their respective responsibilities.


Ocean.US, 2002: An Integrated and Sustained Ocean Observing System (IOOS) for the United States: Design and Implementation. Ocean.US, Arlington, VA, 21 pp. (


  1. L.G. Adams, Weeks Bay NERR (10 December 2004)
  2. Kim Adams, President, Essi Corporation (10 November 2004)
  3. Vernon Asper, for College of Marine Sciences, University of Southern Mississippi (24 March 2003)
  4. Peter R. Betzer, for University of South Florida (USF) College of Marine Science (17 March 2003)
  5. John Blaha, Naval Oceanographic Office (2 June 2004)
  6. Jim Byous, Ocean Specialist Services, for Gulf Fiber Corporation (7 April 2003)
  7. Lisa Campbell, Texas A&M University (26 May 2004)
  8. Jim Cato, Florida Sea Grant (9 April 2003)
  9. Billy D. Causey, Superintendent of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (26 March 2004)
  10. Robert Cohen, Weathernews Americas Inc. (12 April 2004)
  11. H. D. Covert, Coastal Operations Institute (10 March 2004)
  12. George Crozier, for Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (25 March 2003)
  13. Steven F. DiMarco, Texas A&M University (20 April 2004)
  14. Richard E. Dodge, Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center (14 April 2005)
  15. Dean A. Dunn, for National Coastal Data Development Center (NCDDC) (26 March 2003)
  16. John C. Freeman, Weather Research Center (7 November 2005)
  17. Wilford Gardner, Head, Department of Oceanography, Texas A&M University (15 November 2004)
  18. Bryon O. Griffith, Deputy Director, EPA Gulf of Mexico Program Office (2 April 2003)
  19. D. Jay Grimes, Provost, Gulf Coast and Director, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, The University of Southern Mississippi (13 July 2004)
  20. Norman L. Guinasso, Geochemical and Environmental Research Group, Texas A&M University, for Texas Automated Buoy System (TABS) (24 March 2003)
  21. Jill Hasling, for Weather Research Center (7 November 2005)
  22. Robert Hetland, Texas A&M University (21 April 2005)
  23. Matthew Howard, Texas A&M University (26 May 2004)
  24. Ann Jochens, Texas A&M University (13 September 2004)
  25. Gregg Jacobs, NRL Stennis Space Center (15 March 2003)
  26. Gary Jeffress, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, for Texas Coastal Ocean Observing Network (TCOON) (13 March 2003)
  27. Mark Luther, representing both the Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System (COMPS) and the Tampa Bay Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (TBPORTS), USF College of Marine Science (17 March 2003)
  28. Robert (Buzz) Martin, for Texas General Land Office (24 March 2003)
  29. Gil McRae, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Marine Research Institute (1 December 2003)
  30. Douglas J. Meffert, Center for Bioenvironmental Research, Tulane and Xavier Universities, for Long-term Estuary Assessment Group (LEAG) (26 March 2003)
  31. Avichal Mehra, Engineering Research Center, Mississippi State University, for DMEFS (27 March 2003)
  32. Patrick Michaud, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi (13 March 2003)
  33. Paul Moersdorf, Director, NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) (13 March 2003)
  34. Christopher N. K. Mooers, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (2 June 2003)
  35. Frank Muller-Karger, Institute for Marine Remote Sensing, University of South Florida (24 March 2003)
  36. Worth D. Nowlin, Jr., Distinguished Professor, Texas A&M University (11 March 2003)
  37. James J. O’Brien, Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies, Florida State University (14 March 2003)
  38. John C. Ogden, as Director, Florida Institute of Oceanography (24 March 2003)
  39. Alejandro Orsi, Texas A&M University (17 September 2004)
  40. Chris Oynes, Minerals Management Service, Gulf of Mexico Region (5 May 2005)
  41. Shirley Pomponi, Vice-President and Director of Research, for Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution (25 March 2003)
  42. David Prior, Executive Vice-President and Provost for Texas A&M University (12 March 2003)
  43. Nancy N. Rabalais, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON), for NGOMEX Hypoxia Studies (23 March 2003)
  44. Mary Jo Richardson, Interim Dean for the College of Geosciences, Texas A&M University (11 March 2003)
  45. Mitchell A. Roffer, President, Roffer’s Ocean Fishing Forecasting Service, Inc. (ROFFS) (6 June 2003)
  46. Kerry St. Pe, Interim Administrator, for Louisiana Universities Marine Consorium (LUMCON) (8 May 2003)
  47. Ken Schaudt for Schaudt.US (19 October 2005)
  48. William Seitz, Department Head, Marine Sciences, Texas A&M University Galveston (13 January 2005)
  49. Thomas M. Soniat, Professor, Nicholls State University, for DermoWatch (2 October 2003)
  50. Robert Stewart, Department of Oceanography, Texas A&M University (22 April 2004)
  51. Robert Stickney, Director, Texas Sea Grant Program, Texas A&M University (9 April 2003)
  52. Gregory Stone, Louisiana State University (6 May 2004)
  53. LaDon Swann, Director, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, Auburn University (9 April 2003)
  54. Raymond F. Toll, Jr., Assistant Vice President, Earth Space and Atmospheric Sciences Operations; Space, Earth and Aviation Sciences Business Unit of the Science Applications International Corporation, Hampton, VA (16 Mar 2005)
  55. John W. (Wes) Tunnell, Jr., Research Scientist and Professor, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, for Center for Coastal Studies and Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (6 May 2003)
  56. Jan van Smirren, Fugro Global Environmental & Ocean Sciences, Inc. (23 May 2003)
  57. Nan Walker, Director, Earth Scan Laboratory, Coastal Studies Institute and Dept. of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University (17 March 2003)
  58. Robert H. Weisberg, representing both the Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System (COMPS) and the Tampa Bay Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (TBPORTS), USF College of Marine Science (17 March 2003)
  59. Chuck Wilson, Vice Provost Academic Affairs, Louisiana State University, for Louisiana Sea Grant College Program (30 March 2005)
  60. James Robert Woolsey, Director, MS Mineral Resources Institute, University of Mississippi, for Gulf of Mexico Hydrates Research Consortium and its Hydrates Sea Floor Observatory Program (24 March 2003)