Table 8. Recreational Boating Priorities (Combined priorities for data and products from two recreational boating workshops held in the eastern and western Gulf of Mexico during the first half of 2009.
Ranking Data Products
Highest ranked priorities
1 Real-time, accurate weather data; surface currents data; harmful algal blooms Real-time, accurate weather forecasts with more localized resolution, including advanced (least 30 minutes) warning of hazardous weather, environmental alerts, and fog formation. This information, as well as information regarding surface currents and harmful algal blooms, should be available via NOAA All-Hazards weather radio.
2 High-resolution wave heights and surface currents High-resolution wave heights and surface current information near-shore out to about 20 nautical miles with enhanced information near passes and harbor entrances. Highest likely waves information is needed because significant wave height is not understood by a many of the highest risk recreational boaters (e.g., day boater with boat < 21′).
3 Improvements in delivery of information to boaters where and when they need it. Use a combination of low and high technology options (e.g., boat ramps post current weather, waves and hazards perhaps with visual/flag signal, VHF, local radio transmission, GIS on GPS units).
4 Web-based clearing house for regional information needed by boaters. These sites might be aligned with NWS forecast centers.
5 Disseminate data and forecasts via a data portal including synoptic mapping tools for observations and forecasts.
6 Winds, waves, temperature, and currents through the upper water column Additional buoys measuring winds, waves, temperature, and currents through the upper water column to be located near artificial reefs and over banks major diving locations. Private sector sponsorship for purchase, maintenance, and operations costs should be sought.
7 Education for boaters emphasizing common and understood terminologies and verbiage. Marine weather and ocean information has its own “lingo” that many boaters do not understand, e.g., probabilities of rainfall, scattered versus isolated thunderstorms, and wave height versus significant wave height.
8 Bathymetry Bathymetry of coastal shorelines, inlets, and passes.
9 PORTS-like sensors Additional PORTS-Like sensors on the east side of Galveston bay, along the intracoastal Waterway, in other bays (e.g., Corpus Christi), and other locations such as Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. [Localized need expressed by western Gulf workshop.]
Lower Ranked Priorities
Target dissemination of information by audience based on boat and location (e.g., small boats, near-shore vs. larger boats, off-shore).
Pilot charts Make an archive of local area pilot charts available.
Remote sensing data Provide high-resolution remote sensing products (e.g., weed line, temperature).
Develop applications and content for modern technologies (e.g., iPhone, Blackberry).
VHF Distress call relay via buoys (“repeater” system to extend range of VHF offshore).
Subsurface currents Better tools for determination and distribution of subsurface currents.
Salinity, turbidity, chlorophyll, dissolved oxygen, bacteriological Provide water quality products (salinity, turbidity, chlorophyll, dissolved oxygen, bacteriological).
Overlay radar and satellite radio data on electronic navigation charts in real time-predicted information if possible.

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