10-11 January 2006
University of South Alabama
Mobile, Alabama

Tuesday, 10 January 2006

1.0 Welcome

Ann Jochens, GCOOS Regional Coordinator, welcomed the attendees to the first meeting of the GCOOS Stakeholder Council at 0830 CST. She introduced Don Roman, Chair of the GCOOS-RA Board of Directors, and the other members of the Board who were present. Attendees with affiliations are given in Appendix 1.

2.0 Introduction and Purpose of Meeting

Don Roman, Chair of the GCOOS Board of Directors, added his welcome. The Stakeholder Council members and the guests present introduced themselves. Roman then presented the Council with a brief summary of the purpose of the meeting. He also announced that Robert Stickney was elected the Chair of the Stakeholder Council and Stuart Burbach was elected Vice-Chair. The provisional agenda for the meeting is given in Appendix 2.

3.0 Introduction to the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS)

Worth Nowlin presented an introduction to the International Global Ocean Observing System and its U.S. implementation program, the Integrated Ocean Observing System. Paul Kelly raised the point that one development coming out of the recommendations of the U.S. Ocean Policy Commission Report relative to the Integrated Ocean Observing System was the formation of a Gulf of Mexico Alliance. The Alliance is an initiative of the governors of the five U.S. Gulf states that focuses on five priority areas. Board members Roman and Nowlin discussed the complementary interaction of GCOOS with the Alliance. In essence, the Alliance is one stakeholder sector for the GCOOS. The Board hopes that the efforts of the Alliance will identify ocean data and products needed by the states for achieving specific goals and that the Alliance can help with the information transfer and advocacy that will obtain the funds necessary for implementing the requirements. The GCOOS-RA is prepared to accept those identified ocean data and products as priority ones for the regional ocean observing system. Finally, several Board members will be attending the State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit in March 2006 to further forge ties between the Alliance and GCOOS. Additional discussion considered possible new funding sources through oil and gas leasing funds, particularly in Florida and Texas.

4.0 Overview of GCOOS

Don Roman presented an overview of GCOOS. Discussion included mention that one of the seven societal goals of ocean observing systems is ensuring national security. It was suggested then that the agencies and companies involved in homeland security should be considered a possible stakeholder group for GCOOS. It was suggested that there likely were ocean observing systems that would be useful for security; one such system might be high frequency radar, which may be useful for both measurement of surface currents and vessel detection. The relationship of academic and private sectors in GCOOS was discussed. It is expected that private industry will develop most of the products and ultimately will run, perhaps through contracts with federal or state agencies, many of the operational observing systems. The academic sector is expected to continue its focus on research.

5.0 National Federation of Regional Associations (NFRA)

David Martin, co-chair of NFRA, presented an overview of NFRA and the role of Regional Associations in ocean observing systems.

6.0 GCOOS Connections to Caribbean and Mexican Ocean Observing Systems

Worth Nowlin and Alfredo Prelat presented information on efforts to link the GCOOS-RA with the wider Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea community.


The Regional Association covering the U.S. territories in the Caribbean Sea is CaRA, the Caribbean Regional Association for an Integrated Coastal Ocean Observing System (see also CARIOOS). CaRA is under establishment. Although contacts to date have been limited to NFRA meetings, communications are being established between GCOOS Board of Directors members and CaRA personnel.

Internationally, there is an IOCARIBE GOOS, under the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, with U.S. interaction being through NOAA. The group is in its infancy, and no significant activity relative to GCOOS has occurred. A number of Central American countries have parties interested in the GOOS, but no significant developments have occurred. Tom Gustafson mentioned that developments in the Bahamas would be of interest from Florida’s perspective.


The University of Tabasco and PEMEX are interested in an ocean observing system in the Mexican waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Both are enthusiastic about developing interactions with GCOOS and are considering possible membership in the GCOOS-RA. They are planning a Coastal Ecosystems Symposium for 28-30 June 2006 at the University of Tabasco in Villahermosa. The goal is to consider issues associated with an integrated ecosystem for the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Nowlin and Prelat have been invited to give a talk on GCOOS. The State of Veracruz has held a workshop and developed a web page on harmful algal blooms; there is interaction with the U.S. EPA Gulf of Mexico Program, as well as interest in talking to others involved with this issue. Nine academic institutions in Mexico have formed GOOS Mexico, but, although Board members have attempted contacts, there has been little activity relative to GCOOS.

7.0 Invited Talk: Ocean.US

Over lunch, Dr. Mary Altalo, Director of Ocean.US, gave an invited talk on the activities of Ocean.US relative to the Regional Associations. The Ocean.US is presently a federal coordinating body for the development of the IOOS. It is involved in the process of certification of the Regional Associations.

8.0 Synopsis of GCOOS Workshops

Ann Jochens presented a summary of the GCOOS workshops held to date and plans for future workshops. Early workshops were conducted to inform stakeholder sectors about ocean observing systems and the need for and benefits to their specific sectors of development of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System. Other workshops were held to develop capabilities for data sharing, particularly real time data. More recently, workshops were held to identify data and product requirements and priorities for specific sectors. Future workshops will be conducted to inform new stakeholder sectors, as well as to identify requirements and priorities for such sectors. Mary Altalo stated it would be helpful to the development of the IOOS if the priorities for data and products as a result of these workshops were posted to the GCOOS web site and updated regularly, if possible with associated funding requirements.

Tuesday afternoon, 10 January 2006, and Wednesday morning, 11 January 2006

9.0 Presentation of Terms of Reference and Goals of the Board for the Council

Don Roman presented the Terms of Reference for the Stakeholder Council and then outlined areas for which the Board would like inputs and advice from the Council.

10.0 Introduction of Stakeholder Council Chair

Don Roman introduced Robert Stickney, Chair of the Stakeholder Council, and then turned the meeting over to him.

11.0 Council Meeting

During the afternoon of 10 January (~1400-1700 CST) and the morning of 11 January (~0830-1200 CST), the Council discussed the full range of issues suggested by Don Roman. Outreach was deemed crucial for stakeholder development, and the Stakeholder Council would like to develop close ties with the Education and Outreach Council to help facilitate public and stakeholder outreach; it was agreed that Mike Spranger would be the EOC liaison until such time as the EOC Chair is elected. The Council also requested a list of agents and specialists that form the Gulf Sea Grant network be prepared by the EOC and provided to the Stakeholder Council for use in building GCOOS informational advocates.

The Council agreed that workshops also were a good tool for stakeholder development. The workshops and possible pilot projects were discussed in detail, including what has been accomplished with workshops already conducted, what future workshops and their goals might be, and what pilot projects might be pursued. The Council supported that a detailed look into a pilot project on improving hurricane severity forecasts be completed as a high priority for GCOOS; this effort is well underway by Board members Cooper and Roman.

The Council recommended that a communications plan be developed for GCOOS, including news releases, development of a display for presentation at conferences, drafting of a brochure and one-pagers for distribution at meetings, improved coverage of meetings/conferences on the GCOOS calendar, and a review by the Council of the GCOOS web site.


The action items developed during the course of the Council’s discussion are given below. Actions are to be pursued by the named individuals and/or the GCOOS Office staff.

  • Paul Kelly agreed to have a committee of the Offshore Users Council review the prioritized requirements for measurements and products from the November 2005 Oil and Gas and Related Industry workshop. Send lists to Kelly and remind him of this action.
  • The Council would like to see a complete suite of focused stakeholder meetings completed by the end of calendar 2006. The following sectors were suggested as targets:
    • Emergency responders to storm surge and inundation.
    • Fisheries (one general plus three focused meetings).
    • Maritime transportation elements (including tanker traffic, container ships, cruise lines, LNG carriers, pilots and harbor managers, commercial transportation of people, and intercoastal waterway traffic). Contact Jim Kruse for suggestions and assistance with this workshop.
    • Recreational boating (including boaters, power squadrons, marina operators, and retailers) and beach users.
  • Contact the NOAA Coastal Services Center to determine if they plan to hold workshops dealing with any of these sectors.
  • In addition to identifying priority measurements and products and suggesting pilot projects to begin implementation of these, the Council recommended that the focused stakeholder workshops attempt to quantify the value of prioritized observations and products. To get this started, Cort Cooper and Alfredo Prelat will attempt some quantitative estimates for observations and products suggested by the Oil and Gas and Related Industry workshop.
  • The Council discussed a list of potential pilot projects prepared by the Board and discussed criteria for selection of pilot projects as suggested by Buzz Martin (Appendix 3). Most county/state health departments make regular water quality measurements for human pathogens. These observations are placed into databases that could be made internet-accessible. Linking these together into a GOM-wide beach health indicator map would be very useful to beach managers. Ultimately, such observations could be linked with physical transport observations and models to give predictive capability. Bart Bibler agreed to work with the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program to push a pilot project to construct a prototype GOM web site for human pathogens. Assistance from the NCDDC may be needed to place data in common formats with common metadata.
  • In Texas, coordination among state agencies with coastal mandates is carried out by the TX Coastal Coordination Council. Their meetings provide excellent venues to inform and engage state agencies. In Florida, coordination is by the FL Oceans and Coastal Resources Council. Determine whether similar groups exist in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Arrangements should be made for regular briefings of existing coordinating groups.
  • Bart Bibler suggested that the Council and Board should pursue getting the governors of the five states to endorse GCOOS. He suggested this should be done by obtaining endorsement of GCOOS by the lead Gulf of Mexico Alliance state agency and then obtaining endorsement by the governors themselves. A plan of action should be developed on this for each state.
  • There likely exists in each Gulf state a network of emergency responders. Buzz Martin and Bart Bibler will identify for the GCOOS Office those networks for TX and FL, respectively. The Office will determine such networks in the other three states using Stakeholder Council and Board members as contacts.
  • GCOOS needs a Communication Strategy. This should be suggested by the Stakeholder Council and the Education and Outreach Council and approved by the Board of Directors. As elements of that strategy the Stakeholder Council recommends the following elements/actions:
    • Members of the Council, as well as other GCOOS advocates, should seize every opportunity for advocacy. To this end it was agreed that: (1) Information on meetings of interest will be assembled by Bob Stickney’s office and passed to the GCOOS Office to maintain a calendar of such meetings on the web site; (2) A series of PowerPoints describing GOOS, IOOS, GCOOS Status and GCOOS Plans will be maintained on an ftp site for use by speakers attending such meetings; (3) Advocates will be matched to meetings; and (4) Speakers will be asked to provide feedback regarding how their presentations were received and whether follow-up actions are needed.
    • Stakeholder Council members are requested to send lists of meetings to Stickney by 31 January 2006 and update as new opportunities arise.
    • The GCOOS office will obtain a portable display for use at selected meetings. Plan to have this display ready in time for the State of the Gulf Summit (March 28, 2006).
    • Stakeholder Council members should be involved in regular conference calls initiated by the Chair.
    • Stakeholder Council members will review the GCOOS web site and suggest improvements. It is the responsibility of Council members to undertake this and report suggestions to the GCOOS Office. Bart Bibler will look into the possibility of conducting a web based conference call to look at and discuss the web site. Mike Spranger will have his communications expert look at the web site for functionality. Tom Chance suggested adding a links page for companies.
    • The GCOOS Office will implement improvements to the web site. Suggestions at the meeting included: (1) Include a separate area that identifies priority measurements and products; (2) Configure the general map showing locations of observing system elements so that clicking on the site takes viewer to the web site of the measurement or product; (3) Reconfigure site so that finding lists of jumps to observing system elements is easier; (4) Add links to inventories of monitoring programs (e.g., water and beach quality), descriptions and key contacts. (Bibler will provide links to those inventories for Florida.)
    • Prepare Op Ed pieces to reflect significant developments. It was suggested that the Board should prepare a piece reflecting the significance of the meetings of GCOOS Parties, Stakeholder Council and Board of Directors in January 2006. [Assistance with news release preparation and distribution can be obtained in each state from the communications staff in the Sea Grant programs.]
    • One-pagers should be prepared for selected trade shows or other meetings. These must be targeted to the specific audience.
    • Prepare additional one-page success stories dealing with the GCOOS.
    • Consider possible development of a documentary or other short movie on inundation from hurricanes and/or tsunamis that features the role of ocean observing systems.
    • Mike Spranger will try to send to Council members DVDs for review regarding other potential communication activities.


APPENDIX 1: GCOOS-RA Stakeholder Council Meeting Attendees With Affiliations

(T = attended 10 January; W= attended 11 January)





Becky Allee    4 NOAA  
Mary Altalo    4 Ocean.US Office  
Bart Bibler   1 Florida Department of Health
David Buzan   1 Texas Parks and Wildlife
Thomas Chance   1 C & C Technologies, Inc.
Cort Cooper   1,2 Chevron
Dave Donaldson   1 Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission
Tom Gustafson   1 Nova Southeastern University
Stephan Howden The University of Southern Mississippi
Ann Jochens    3 Texas A&M University
Paul Kelly   1 Rowan Industries  
Mark Luther    2 University of South Florida  
David Martin    4 University of Washington  
Robert (Buzz) Martin    2 Texas General Land Office
Worth Nowlin    2 Texas A&M University
Alfredo Prelat    2 PAR Government
Don Roman    2 The University of Southern Mississippi
Alex Soloviev    4 Nova Southeastern University
Mike Spranger    2 Florida Sea Grant Program
Robert Stickney   1 Texas Sea Grant College Program
Jan van Smirren    2 Fugro GEOS  
Sharon Walker    2 The University of Southern Mississippi  
David Yeager   1 Mobile Bay NEPP
1: Stakeholder Council Member
2: Board of Directors Member
3: GCOOS Regional Coordinator
4: Guest


APPENDIX 2: GCOOS Stakeholder Council Meeting

January 10-11, 2006
Mobile, Alabama

Tuesday, January 10

8:00 Coffee
8:30 Welcome, Introduction of Board Members Present (Ann Jochens, GCOOS Regional Coordinator)
Background: Doc Council I/1
8:40 Introduction, Introduction of Stakeholder Council Members, and Purpose of Meeting (Don Roman, Chair, GCOOS Board of Directors)
9:00 Introduction to the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) (Worth Nowlin)
Questions and discussion
Background: Doc Council I/2
10:00 Refreshment Break
10:30 Overview of GCOOS (Don Roman)
Background: Doc Council I/3
11:00 National Federation of Regional Associations (NFRA)
Overview of NFRA and role of Regional Associations. Summary of legislation and funding for ocean observing—where we are, where we want to go, and advocacy issues (David Martin)
Background: Doc Council I/4
11:30 GCOOS Connections to Caribbean RA and Mexican OOS (Alfredo Prelat and Worth Nowlin)
12:00 Catered lunch; talk by Dr. Mary Altalo, Director Ocean.US
13:00 Synopsis of GCOOS workshops, results and actions (Ann Jochens)
Background: Doc Council I/5
13:30 Presentation of Terms of Reference and outline of goals of the Board for the Council (Don Roman)
Background: Doc Council I/6
14:00 Introduction of Stakeholder Council Chair (Don Roman)
14:10 Council Meeting (Chair)

  • Goals provided by BOD
    • Discussion
    • Identification of action items
  • Stakeholder Development
  • Education and Outreach to Stakeholder Sectors
  • Workshops
    • Review of planned workshops
    • Suggestions for other workshop
  • Other business
15:00 Refreshment Break
15:30 Council Meeting (continued)
17:00 Adjourn day
Wednesday, January 11, 2005
8:00 Coffee
8:30 Council Meeting (continued)
12:00 Adjourn Stakeholder Council Meeting

Notes on Background Materials:

The background materials are available by links to documents.


APPENDIX 3: Criteria for Selection of Pilot Projects

Suggested by Buzz Martin

Pilot projects should:

  1. Have a lot of public relations potential
  2. Be identifiable with GCOOS
  3. Be something that can be appreciated locally and regionally
  4. Be an IOOS priority
  5. Demonstrate stakeholder involvement
  6. Have a high probability for success
  7. Maximize use of existing components and infrastructure (save money)
  8. Demonstrate regions ability to cooperate (include all sectors and several groups)
  9. Have a high potential for rapid progress to pre-operational and operational status
  10. Have a component architecture that consists of both short and long term products and/or services, with parts becoming operational early in the project, as well as at the end
  11. Include metrics to quantify socioeconomic benefit
  12. Demonstrate that it’s something that could only have been done by regional integration