24-25 January 2005
New Orleans, LA

The initial GCOOS Stakeholder Meeting was held 24-25 January 2005 in New Orleans, LA. Each Regional Coastal Ocean Observing System must establish a governing Regional Association and must develop and maintain a Business Plan. The Ocean.US enterprise has provided guidelines for establishing Regional Associations and for Business Plans. In furtherance of these goals, the meeting objectives were to:

  • Ratify an initial governance mechanism, in the form of a Memorandum of Agreement, for the Regional Association that will govern GCOOS
  • Obtain nominees for the Board of Directors, Councils and Committees of the Regional Association
  • Consider recommendations for a longer-term governance structure
  • Reach consensus on parts of a draft GCOOS Business Plan and a path to its further development.

This meeting was open to all participants interested in developing GCOOS and/or using resulting data and products.

Preparation for this meeting began in September 2004. The Regional Association organizers are grateful to the volunteers who worked to prepare the governance agreement (Memorandum of Agreement) and draft Business Plan for the GCOOS Regional Association. These documents were prepared bearing in mind the guidelines for governance (pdf) and business plans (pdf) issued by the Ocean.US Office.

The agenda contains links to the presentations. The meeting began with a brief welcome and overview of the Tulane/Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research, our host institution. by Douglas Meffert. Worth Nowlin than reviewed the objectives of the meeting, as listed above. Nowlin and Landry Bernard gave overviews of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System and of the GCOOS, respectively.

Discussion of a governance structure for the GCOOS Regional Association (GCOOS-RA) began with a presentation by Nowlin of the governance guidelines issued by the Ocean.US Office. Ann Jochens, part-time GCOOS Regional Coordinator, presented the highlights of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) drafted for GCOOS by a team that Jochens introduced. Team members present were on the podium and offered comments following the overview. The floor was then opened for comments by all stakeholders. Most of the resulting discussion was in the form of clarification or rationale for decisions made when preparing the document. However, it became apparent that a few modifications were needed, specifically dealing with conflict of interest, voting versus non-voting members, and procedure for modifying the MOA. It was agreed to make changes overnight and return to the MOA on the next day.

Stephan Howden, chair of the drafting team for the GCOOS Business Plan, presented highlights from the Business Plan draft. He introduced the team members; those present joined him on the podium and were invited to comment on the draft. It was emphasized that the draft is incomplete and not intended for adoption; it must be refined and approved by the formal structure of the GCOOS-RA. Open discussion of the draft plan continued for most of the afternoon of the first day. There were many useful suggestions for improvement. The key issues, however, were that the plan: (1) should have more emphasis on non-physical data, products, and models; (2) must include a chapter on training; and (3) should explicitly include provision for private sector contributions. These and other issues regarding the Business Plan were revisited on the second day of the meeting. It was agreed that the drafting team would revise the draft before submitting it to the GCOOS-RA for completion. Jeff Lillycrop, Steve DiMarco, Brian Keller, Mitch Roffer, Mike Spranger, and John Lumpkin volunteered to assist in this revision, particularly to provide expertise in living resources and in training.

Mark Luther gave a presentation on the Alliance for Coastal Technologies (ACT). This included an overview of the program, a review of past activities, and plans for the future. Following the first day’s session, ACT had arranged a reception for the stakeholders which was sponsored by the Boeing Company, represented by Alfredo Prelat.

On the second morning of the meeting, Don Roman presented three changes to the draft MOA, showing previous and recommended new wording. Those changes were accepted. Then, Thomas McGee moved and Wilford Gardner seconded a motion to accept the MOA as the initial governance document for the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Regional Association. That motion passed with only one dissenting vote.

Nowlin called for written nominations for the GCOOS Board of Directors, Councils and Committees as detailed in the MOA.

The last part of the second morning was spent considering activities to inform and entrain potential providers and users into the system. Ideas included studies to consider new observing system initiatives; workshops focused on specific sectors or problem areas; and meetings at which GCOOS should be represented and highlighted. It also was agreed that the GCOOS web site should contain a questionnaire for users and potential users as well as a listing of all future workshops in the Gulf of Mexico that might be related to the GCOOS. Details will be developed by the GCOOS Office at Texas A&M University. A. Prelat suggested that the Boeing Company might be willing to support one of the suggested user workshops. Current support provided by NOAA to the GCOOS Office is quite limited, and this was a welcome suggestion.

The meeting was adjourned at noon of the second day. Following the meeting, stakeholders were invited to sign the MOA. Enough did so that the governance document is now in effect.

The results of this meeting take us a long way toward meeting requirements for recognition of our Regional GCOOS Association as an element of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System.