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GCOOS Recreational Boaters Workshop
4-5 February 2009
St. Petersburg, FL

A workshop for recreational boaters in the eastern Gulf of Mexico was held at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Facility in St. Petersburg, FL, on February 4-5, 2009. This workshop, sponsored by the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Regional Association (GCOOS-RA), had been widely announced for several months and was attended by a variety of boaters whose names and affiliations are given in Appendix 1.

The tentative agenda is given in Appendix 2. Prior to the beginning of the workshop, a discussion was held among the breakout group leaders and facilitators, the Chair of the workshop steering committee (Don Roman), and the workshop facilitator (Ann Weaver) to discuss workshop objectives, process, and details of the breakout groups.

At 8:30 am on February 4, Don Roman called the meeting to order. After welcoming the attendees on behalf of the GCOOS-RA Board of Directors, he had the participants introduce themselves. He then briefly introduced the objectives and deliverables, emphasizing that the GCOOS-RA was seeking information on what data and products boaters use now, how they access it, and what new data and products they would want.

To set the context of the meeting, Worth Nowlin gave a talk briefly describing the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and its U.S. component the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). He then described the Gulf coastal component of the IOOS–the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS)–and the Regional Association (GCOOS-RA) that is building the GCOOS. Nowlin provided information on how to become involved with the GCOOS-RA.

Roman then presented in some detail the objectives of the workshop and expected deliverables. In essence the workshop sought to expose to its participants the plans and capabilities of GCOOS and to obtain from the participants a prioritized listing of observations and products that the recreational boating community would like to have to improve their safety and better meet their boating objectives.

Ann Weaver explained to the participants the process to be used in the workshop to obtain the desired deliverables. This included instructions for the breakout groups. The plan for the workshop was to have five breakout groups for those most interested in: Search and Rescue, Recreational Fishing, Recreational Diving, Offshore Sailing, and Weekend Cruising. All workshop participants were asked during their online registration to indicate their first and second choices for breakout groups. However, due to the fact that most registrants indicated a first interest in only three of the five categories, it was decided to combine two groups and have only three breakout groups. Recreational Fishing and Diving were combined, with Dr. Ernst Peebles of the University of South Florida as the leader and Dr. Michael Spranger of Florida Sea Grant as the facilitator. Offshore Sailing and Weekend Cruising were combined, with Dr. Don Roman of the University of Southern Mississippi (retired) as the leader and Dr. Robert Swett of Florida Sea Grant as the facilitator. The Search and Rescue breakout group was led by Mr. Larry Tieman of TowBoatUS and facilitated by Dr. Chris Simoniello of the GCOOS-RA. Don Roman had prepared a "Breakout Session Guide" for each of the five groups. These guides were available to members of the appropriate breakout groups (Appendix 3).

A primary concern of all participants is safety. To meet this concern the first workshop speaker was Jeffrey N. Hoedt, Chief, Boating and Safety Division, Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety of the United States Coast Guard. He gave a presentation titled "Recreational Boating Benefits and Challenges." This presentation stressed safety and made clear the magnitude of recreational boating in the U.S., its challenges, and potential solutions. More than half of the recreational boats worldwide are made in the U.S. Our nation has the widest range of boating types (e.g., open motorboats, personal watercraft, cabin motorboats, pontoons, sail, canoes, kayaks, rowboats) in the world. More than two-thirds of the ~700 deaths each year in the recreational boating community are by drowning; notably over 90% of these deceased were not wearing life jackets. Clearly safety education for a broad range of boaters is needed. Hoedt described the various conflicts (such as between boaters and other boaters, swimmers, bank fishermen, and land owners) and challenges (e.g., homeland security, environmental stewardship) that face the recreational boating community. He also detailed the many benefits of recreational boating, including quality of life, economic impact, and job creation. He explained that the challenges can be met in a variety of ways, including using common courtesy toward others, wearing life jackets, taking boating safety education classes, and not drinking alcoholic beverages while boating. For further information on USCG boaters safety see the "Boat Responsibility" and "Statistics" tabs on http://www.uscgboating.org/.

Except for a mid-afternoon presentation, the afternoon of day one was spent in breakout groups. The three breakout sessions continued until about 4:30 on day one. The group facilitators and leads then prepared presentations of group results to be given in the plenary session on day two.

The mid-afternoon presentation was given by Andrew Reich, Program Coordinator for the Aquatics Toxin Program, Division of Environmental Health of the Florida Department of Health and was titled "Water Quality and Public Health: Where is the Information?". Reich also chairs the GCOOS-RA Public Health Task Team. His talk discussed animal and human populations exposed to aquatic toxins, stressing that some population classes are more susceptible than others and some toxins affect animals, but not humans. Exposure pathways include direct skin contact (e.g., swimming), drinking water, ingestion of food (e.g., contaminated shellfish), and inhalation of aerosols. He showed how ocean and weather data are important. For examples, the aerosols of the red tide toxin can be transported approximately a mile inland by the winds, and coastal currents can aggregate Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs). Toxins of greatest concern for Florida are red tide on the west, ciguatera on the south, and puffer fish poisoning on the east. Other species may be of concern to other Gulf coast areas. Reich gave detailed and useful information on how boaters and other interested people can access useful information on beach and water threats caused by toxins. A few sources of information are http://www.myfloridaeh.com/medicine/aquatic/index.html, the "Red Tide" tab on http://research.myfwc.com/, the "Shellfish Harvesting" tab on http://www.floridaaquaculture.com/index.htm, and the HAB Bulletin at http://coastwatch.noaa.gov/hab/bulletins_ns.htm.

Participants were invited to a reception hosted by the GCOOS-RA at the Pier Aquarium in St. Petersburg. This proved an excellent venue for individual discussions, interesting exhibits, and good food.

Day two began with a light continental breakfast and a call to order by Don Roman. He reviewed the activities of day one and discussed the activities for the remainder of the workshop.

The spokesperson for each of the breakout groups then gave the presentations. Mike Spranger showed the results from the Recreational Fishing and Diving group (see Appendix 4). The first phase of their discussions was a brainstorming session where the participants identified the sources of information that they utilized in their recreational fishing and diving activities. The second phase was an identification of tools, products, services and informational needs the participants identified as things they could use in their recreational fishing and diving activities, if available. The third phase was an identification of common products, services and informational needs that the participants consolidated from the listing in the second phase of the discussions. These included a listing of potential tools, products, services, and informational needs.

Larry Tieman presented the results from the Search and Rescue breakout group (see Appendix 5). These included a list of types of ocean and weather observations used by the SAR community, together with key current sources of information. They also listed the most desirable information not currently available and presented a wish list of three new tools or products they felt to be of high priority.

Jean Hamilton presented results from the Weekend Cruising and Offshore Sailing breakout group (see Appendix 6). The group first conducted brainstorming and then developed ideas for new data and products, including ways to improve existing information. These ideas were consolidated into eight priorities, as shown in Appendix 6. The main concerns of the group were directed toward providing more localized information, with improved delivery in easily understandable forms, with a focus on boaters using craft shorter than 21 ft.

The final phase of the workshop was to blend the suggested needs of the three breakout groups into a list of non-overlapping needs and then to prioritize those needs. Ann Weaver moderated these activities. First the needs identified by the three breakout groups were consolidated into 15 needs. Then each participant was given four votes to be cast for four needs believed to be of highest priority. The results are given in Table 1.

Table 1. Fifteen Prioritized Needs from the Eastern Gulf Recreational Boating Workshop
(The number of votes received by each need is noted.)
High Priority
  1. High-resolution wave heights and current information at passes and near-shore out to about 20 nm. (16 votes)
  2. Real-time, accurate weather data and forecasts at more localized resolution, including environmental alerts and fog. (14 votes)
  3. Dissemination via the Internet with synoptic mapping tools “one stop shop” for observations and forecasts. (10 votes)
  4. Improvements in the delivery of information to boaters including where and when they need it, and a combination of low and high technology options (e.g., at the ramp with visual/flag signal, VHF, local radio transmission, GIS on GPS units). NOTE: the for-hire boaters and fishermen did not think a flag/warning system at the dock is a good idea because of liability issues. (9 votes)
  5. Education, emphasizing common and understood terminologies and verbiage. (7 votes)
  6. Near-term hazardous weather development-at least 30 min advanced warning. (5 votes)
  7. More buoys through private sector sponsorship-including infrastructure, maintenance and operation costs; Location for these should include artificial reefs and major diving spots, and sensors should include aids to navigation. (4 votes)
  8. Bathymetry of coastal shorelines, inlets and passes. (3 votes)
Lower Priority
Items 9-12 each received one vote; 13-15 received zero votes:
  1. Targeted dissemination by audience (e.g., small boats, near-shore vs. larger boats, off-shore).
  2. Local area pilot charts made available (archive).
  3. Integrated web data portal (e.g., inter-agency), “tagging” data that are not currently available.
  4. Higher resolution remote sensing products (e.g., weed line, temperature).
  5. VHF Distress call relay via buoys (“repeater” system to extend range of VHF offshore).
  6. Better tools and distribution for subsurface currents.
  7. Water quality products (salinity, turbidity, chlorophyll, dissolved oxygen, bacteriological), including surface and bottom measurements.

Note that under priority item (1), the consensus was that the NOAA wave forecast parameters do not serve the recreational boater, but rather appear to be designed to meet the needs of the U.S. Navy, marine transportation, and offshore industries. Waves have a major impact on small boats, and a significant wave height forecast of 1 to 3 ft when every tenth wave may be 3.5 or 4 ft is of major concern for small boat handling and safety. The recreational boating community is looking for a description of the highest seas that are likely, not a significant wave height. The comment was made that boaters often take the NOAA range of wave heights and add them together to get an idea of what will be experienced. For example, for the range given as 2 to 4 ft, the recreational boater may assume six feet would be the expected maximum. The point was made strongly that using significant wave height forecasts does not provide the information the recreational boater needs. It was suggested that a bounded forecast, along the lines of 3 ft (significant) with the highest waves 4.5 ft, might be more useful. The boating community is interested in an increase in accuracy and resolution without the confusion of trying to decide what a significant wave height of 3 feet really means to the small boat, where the highest 1/10 wave height might be more useful.

Priority item (2) recognizes an interest in having high fidelity forecasts in an area, such as: east versus west Tampa Bay, upper or lower Tampa Bay versus the southern entrance to the Intracoastal waterway off of Tampa Bay. It was recognized that NOAA marine forecasting offices are attempting to improving their local forecasting, and that accuracy, fidelity, and spatial resolution needs much more improvement.

Priority item (4) was a recognition of the unique needs of the category of boater that comprises the highest risk of accident, injury and death – boats under 21 ft. There was a strong consensus that effort should be made to provide this group of boaters targeted, high priority information in a location where they will likely see it as they launch for the day's activities, i.e, boat ramps and major facilities.

Priority item (5) reflects the group's concern that marine weather and ocean information has its own “lingo” that many boaters still do not understand. Examples are: probabilities of rainfall, scattered versus isolated thunderstorms and, of course, wave heights versus significant wave heights.

To conclude the workshop, Don Roman noted that a GCOOS-RA Workshop for Recreational Boaters from the western Gulf will be held May 28-29, 2009, at a venue near Clear Lake, TX.

Thanks were expressed to the USGS for hosting the meeting, to the meeting organizers, and to all attendees, especially facilitators and breakout group leads. The workshop adjourned before noon on February 5, 2009.


Appendix 1: Attendees

 

Attendee Affiliation
Bill Allbright Tampa Bay Harbor Safety & Security Committee
Michael Bailey NOAA Fisheries
Amy M. Crouchman Hamilton Harbor Yacht Club
Glenn Dobos St. Petersburg Sail & Power Squadron
Capt. Mark A. Fleege Ancient Mariner's
Brent Gaskill Fishing Guide
Jean Hamilton United States Power Squadrons
Jeff Hoedt U.S. Coast Guard
Ali Hudon The Pier Aquarium
Chuck Husick President, OWA, Inc.
Ann Jochens GCOOS / TAMU
Bob Joyner Local Boater and Attorney
Steve Kearl Florida Sea Grant
Mark Luther USF Marine Science
Dorothy Martin Clearwater Sail & Power Squadron
George Martin Tampa Sail & Power Squadron
Susan Martin GCOOS / TAMU
Broch Murch Institute for Marine Remote Sensing, USF
Worth Nowlin GCOOS / TAMU
Ernst Peebles University of South Florida
Andy Reich Florida Department of Health
Donald Roman GCOOS Board of Directors
Bill Sargent Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission
Scott D. Schermerhorn Florida Department of Health
Gary Serventi Recreational Diving and Fishing
Chris Simoniello GCOOS
Mike Spranger Florida Sea Grant Program
Robert Stickney Texas Sea Grant College Program
Vembu Subramanian University of South Florida
Don Sweat Florida Sea Grant Program
Bob Swett Florida Sea Grant Program
Larry Tieman Boat US
Jyotika Virmani Florida COOS Consortium
Ann Weaver NOAA Gulf Coast Services Center
Hans Zarbock Davis Island Yacht Club

Appendix 2: Tentative Agenda

 

Tentative Agenda
February 4-5, 2009
St. Petersburg, FL
8:00 - 8:30 Pre-workshop Briefing with Facilitators and Focus Area Leads
 
Objective: Small Group Discussion leads and Facilitators review the workshop objectives and process and discuss specific details regarding breakout sessions.
 
8:00 - 8:30 Participant Check-In
 
DAY 1 ACTIVITIES and OBJECTIVES
8:30 - 9:00 Call to Order (Don Roman)
Welcome, Review of Agenda, Introductions

 
9:00 - 9:45

Context Setting (Worth Nowlin)
 
Objective: Provide contextual informatiton that will help attendees understand what IOOS is, and the possibilities for use.
 

9:45 - 10:00

Overview of Recreational Workshop Objectives and Deliverables (Don Roman)

Objective: Participants will understand what is to be accomplished and how their input will be used.
 
10:00 - 10:30 Workshop Structure and Breakout group discussion (Ann Weaver, Facilitator)
 
Objective: Explain breakout group process and desired outcomes.
 
Note: There will be five breakout groups: Search and Rescue, Recreational Fishing, Recreational Diving, Offshore Sailing, and Weekend Cruising.
 
10:30 - 10:45 BREAK
 
10:45 - 11:45 Guest Speaker: Mr. Jeff Hoedt, Chief, Boating Safety Division, US Coast Guard HQ
 
Objective: Demonstrate how GCOOS data can be used to increase recreational boating experience.
 
11:45 - 12:00

Breakout Groups: Introduction

Objective: Attendees get to know each other.

12:00 - 1:00 LUNCH (provided)
 
12:00 - 1:00 Facilitators and Chairs set up their space and prepare for break out.
 
1:00 - 2:15 Breakout Groups: Preliminary Discussion of data and tool needs
 
Objective: Attendees begin the process of identifying data and tools they can use to create a better experience when participating in the recreational topic of the session.
 
2:15 - 2:30 BREAK
 
2:30 - 3:15 Guest Speaker: Andy Reich on Water Quality and Public Health
 
Objective: Participants will gain an understanding of products that are used to address public health issues and how they may be obtained.
 
3:15 - 4:30 Groups reconvene and add public health issues to list of tools and data
 
Objective: The focus area leader (subject matter expert) from each group shares ideas about how they can address public health issues using data in each topic area.
 
6:30 - 8:00 Reception sponsored by GCOOS-RA (Cash Bar)
 
DAY 2 ACTIVITIES and OBJECTIVES
8:00 - 8:30 Light Continental Breakfast for Participants
 
8:30 - 8:45 Call to Order
Review of Previous Day's Activities, Discussion of Morning Agenda
 
Objective: Review activities of Day 1 and Discuss the Activities during the remainder of the meeting.
 
8:45 - 10:25 Presentations of Breakout Session Results
 
Objective: Provide prioritized information identified by the five breakout groups.
 
10:25 - 10:45 BREAK
 
10:45 - 12:30 Blending of Breakout Groups' Recommendations
 
Objective: Obtain a single prioritized list of needed observations and products.
 
12:30 ADJOURN WORKSHOP

Appendix 3: Breakout Group Guides

Search and Rescue Breakout Session Guide
Weekend Cruising Breakout Session Guide
Offshore Sailing Breakout Session Guide
Recreational Fishing Breakout Session Guide
Recreational Diving Breakout Session Guide


Search and Rescue Breakout Session Guide

This breakout session is intended to identify the types of ocean and atmospheric data or products that support Search and Rescue and waterborne assistance for the recreational boating community, and how this information is accessed. Some examples are:

  • Weather—rain probability, surface winds, waves (frequency of updating needed?)
  • Buoy measured sea height via dial-up from NDBC or by internet
  • Tides via GPA lookup table and from newspaper the night before activity (Just high and low tides or currents too?)
  • Surface visibility
  • Current information, and or drift models at the surface and at depth
  • Water depth and bottom information, accuracy and resolution of hydrographic data
  • Satellite imagery and how it's accessed

Discussions also should address the reliability of the data–for instance wave height accuracy, or winds. Some effort should be made to determine if the available information supports localized conditions. If it does not, perhaps more information needs to be developed, such as additional sensors, measurements, modeling, etc. Discussions should also try to identify information that would most assist the recreational boater from having to request assistance or SAR services. A summation of the discussions might look something like:

DATA/PRODUCT FREQUENCY SOURCES RELIABILITY/ACCURACY

Further, the discussions should also lead to the identification of data and products that would be useful if they were available. This could be as simple as the additional information suggested above, or more complicated such as:

  • High resolution current information in a particular pass, around reefs, islands or in very popular locations
  • Updated and or higher resolution hydrographi (navigational chart) information
  • Accurate real time rip-tide information for particular beach locations

Again, how the information would be accessed needs to be discussed. This second half of the discussion is the “Wish List.” It’s the “what would be really nice is....” or, "what we could really use....” portion of the discussions.

The first phase of the discussions should identify the existing data and communications used by SAR and assistance providers and what improvements could be made. The second phase of the discussions should identify future needs. Do not get caught up in trying to identify whether a “need” is an observation, model, derivative product, or whether it should be a government, academia or commercial responsibility. The priority is to identify potential “requirements” that the SAR community sees as having value.


Weekend Cruising Breakout Session Guide

This breakout session is intended to identify the types of ocean and atmospheric data or products that the week day, or weekend, cruiser presently uses to support their activities (both power and sail), and how they access this information. Some examples are:

  • Weekend weather - rain probability, surface winds, waves checked two days in advance on TV and NOAA Websites, one day in advance on NOAA website, morning of the activity via NOAA VHF broadcast prior to departure
  • Buoy sea height via dial-up from NDBC the morning of departure
  • Tides via GPS lookup table and from newspaper the night before activity (Just high and low tides or current too?)
  • Moon phase from NOAA, newspaper, GPS
  • Water quality data and source
  • Water depth and bottom information, accuracy of hydrographic data
  • Wind information from Sirius radio displayed on a chart plotter

Discussions also should address the reliability of the data–for instance wave height accuracy or winds. Some effort should be made to determine if the available information support the localized conditions. If it does not, perhaps more information needs to be developed, such as additional sensors, measurements, etc. A summation of discussions might look something like:

DATA/PRODUCT FREQUENCY SOURCES RELIABILITY/ACCURACY

Further, the discussions should also lead to the identification of data and products that would be useful if they were available. This could be as simple as the additional information suggested above, or more complicated such as:

  • Accurate current information in a particular pass
  • Real time water level (depth) information in a particular channel that is heavily influenced by local wind events
  • Updated hydrographic (navigational chart) information
  • High resolution localized current models, such as for the mouth of Tampa Bay, or the ICW near Fort Myers, or in very popular week fishing locations
  • Accurate real time rip-tide information for particular beach locations

Again, how the information would be accessed needs to be discussed. This second half of the discussion is the “Wish List.” It’s the “what would be really nice is....” or, "what we could really use....” portion of the discussions.

The first phase of the discussions should identify the existing data and communications used by recreational weekend boater and what improvements could be made. The second phase of the discussions should identify future needs. Do not get caught up in trying to identify whether a “need” is an observation, model, derivative product, or whether it should be a government, academia or commercial responsibility. The priority is to identify potential “requirements” that the recreational boater sees as having value.


Offshore Sailing Breakout Session Guide

This breakout session is intended to identify the types of ocean and atmospheric data or products that the offshore sailing community presently uses to support their activities (both power and sail), and how they access this information. Some examples are:

  • Short term and long range weather predictions (web, private forecasting services, HF facsimile, etc.)
  • Acquisition and use of satellite imagery to locate weather, currents, etc.
  • Offshore current information and locations (satellite images, Navy analysis, etc.)
  • Buoy sea height via dial-up from NDBC the morning of departure, while underway via land support and SSB.
  • Tides via GPS lookup table (Just high and low tides or current too?)
  • Moon phase from NOAA, newspaper, GPS, nautical almanac
  • Water temperatures - analysis prior to departure, onboard equipment, HF facsimile broadcast
  • Water depth and bottom information, accuracy of hydrographic data
  • Wind information from Sirius radio displayed on a chart plotter

Discussions also should address the reliability of the data–for instance wave height accuracy or winds. Some effort should be made to determine if the available information supports localized conditions, such as waves along the Loop Current or in the Straits of Florida. If it does not, perhaps more information needs to be developed, such as additional sensors, measurements, or better predictions, etc. A summation of discussions might look something like:

DATA/PRODUCT FREQUENCY SOURCES RELIABILITY/ACCURACY

Further, the discussions should also lead to the identification of data and products that would be useful if they were available. For examples:

  • Accurate higher resolution current information on the West Florida Shelf, or in localized areas such as along the Florida Keys, Yucatan Channel, etc.
  • Real-time wind and wave information in a particular channel that is heavily influenced by local wind events
  • Updated hydrographic (navigational chart) information

Again, how the information would be accessed needs to be discussed. This second half of the discussion is the “Wish List.” It’s the “what would be really nice is....” or, "what we could really use....” portion of the discussions.

The first phase of the discussions should identify the existing data and communications used by recreational offshore sailors and what improvements could be made. The second phase of the discussions should identify future needs. Do not get caught up in trying to identify whether a “need” is an observation, model, derivative product, or whether it should be a government, academic or commercial responsibility. The priority is to identify potential “requirements” that the recreational boater sees as having value.


Recreational Fishing Breakout Session Guide

This breakout session is intended to identify the types of ocean and atmospheric data or products that the recreational fishing community presently uses to support their activities and how they access this information. Some examples are:

  • Weather—rain probability, surface winds, waves checked two days in advance on TV and NOAA Websites, one day in advance on NOAA website, morning of the activity via NOAA VHF broadcast prior to departure
  • Buoy measured sea height via dial-up from NDBC the morning of departure
  • Tides via GPS lookup table and from newspaper the night before activity (Just high and low tides or current too?)
  • Moon phase from NOAA, newspaper, GPS, local TV
  • Fishing predictions from almanacs, or local TV and radio programs
  • Water quality and temperature data and source
  • Current information at the surface and at depth
  • Water depth and bottom information, accuracy and resolution of hydrographic data
  • Wind information from Sirius radio displayed on a chart plotter
  • The use of satellite imagery and how it’s accessed
  • The use of information on fish populations and locations

Discussions also should address the reliability of the data–for instance wave height accuracy or winds. Some effort should be made to determine if the available information supports localized conditions. If it does not, perhaps more information needs to be developed, such as additional sensors, measurements, modeling, etc. A summation of discussions might look something like:

DATA/PRODUCT FREQUENCY SOURCES RELIABILITY/ACCURACY

Further, the discussions should also lead to the identification of data and products that would be useful if they were available. This could be as simple as the additional information as suggested above, or more complicated, such as:

  • High resolution current information in a particular pass, around reefs, islands or in very popular fishing locations
  • Real-time water level (depth) information in a particular channel that is heavily influenced by local wind events
  • Updated and or higher resolution hydrographic (navigational chart) information
  • Accurate real time rip-tide information for particular beach locations

Again, how the information would be accessed needs to be discussed. This second half of the discussion is the “Wish List.” It’s the “what would be really nice is....” or, "what we could really use....” portion of the discussions.

The first phase of the discussions should identify the existing data and communications used for recreational fishing and what improvements could be made. The second phase of the discussions should identify future needs. Do not get caught up in trying to identify whether a “need” is an observation, model, derivative product, or whether it should be a government, academia or commercial responsibility. The priority is to identify potential “requirements” that the recreational fishing community sees as having value.


Recreational Diving Breakout Session Guide

This breakout session is intended to identify the types of ocean and atmospheric data or products that the recreational diving community presently uses to support their activities and how they access this information. Some examples are:

  • Weather—rain probability, surface winds, waves checked two days in advance on TV and NOAA Websites, one day in advance on NOAA website, morning of the activity via NOAA VHF broadcast prior to departure
  • Buoy measured sea height via dial-up from NDBC the morning of departure
  • Tides via GPS lookup table and from newspaper the night before activity (Just high and low tides or current too?)
  • Water quality, turbidity, visibility and temperature data and source
  • Current information at the surface and at depth
  • Water depth and bottom information, accuracy and resolution of hydrographic data
  • Satellite imagery and how it’s accessed
  • Information on fish populations and locations

Discussions also should address the reliability of the data – for instance wave height accuracy or winds. Some effort should be made to determine if the available information supports localized conditions. If it does not, perhaps more information needs to be developed, such as additional sensors, measurements, modeling, etc. A summation of discussions might look something like:

DATA/PRODUCT FREQUENCY SOURCES RELIABILITY/ACCURACY

Further, the discussions should also lead to the identification of data and products that would be useful if they were available. This could be as simple as the additional information suggested above, or more complicated such as:

  • High resolution current information in a particular pass, around reefs, islands or in very popular fishing locations
  • Updated and or higher resolution hydrographic (navigational chart) information
  • Accurate real time rip-tide information for particular beach locations

Again, how the information would be accessed needs to be discussed. This second half of the discussion is the “Wish List.” It’s the “what would be really nice is....” or, "what we could really use....” portion of the discussions.

The first phase of the discussions should identify the existing data and communications used by recreational divers and what improvements could be made. The second phase of the discussions should identify future needs. Do not get caught up in trying to identify whether a “need” is an observation, model, derivative product, or whether it should be a government, academia or commercial responsibility. The priority is to identify potential “requirements” that the recreational fishing community sees as having value.


Appendix 4: Recreational Fishing & Diving Breakout Group

Chair: Ernst Peebles, Professor, University of South Florida
Facilitator: Mike Spranger, Florida Sea Grant, University of Florida

Participant Interest Area Affiliation/Organization
Gary ServentiRecreational DivingBusiness Owner
Brent GaskillRecreational FishingFishing Guide
Andy ReichRecreational FishingFL Dept. of Health
Amy M. CrouchmanRecreational FishingNaples–Marina
Robert StickneyRecreational FishingTX Sea Grant
Worth NowlinRecreational FishingTAMU
Ernst PeeblesRecreational FishingUniversity of South Florida
Steve KearlRecreational FishingFL Sea Grant
Don SweatRecreational FishingFL Sea Grant
Michael BaileyRecreational FishingNOAA Fisheries
Mike SprangerRecreational FishingFL Sea Grant

The breakout session was intended to identify the types of ocean and atmospheric data or products that the recreational fishing and diving community presently uses to support their activities and how they access this information. Some examples for consideration included:

  • Weather—rain probability, surface winds, waves checked two days in advance on TV and NOAA Websites, one day in advance on NOAA website, morning of the activity via NOAA VHF broadcast prior to departure
  • Buoy measured sea height via dial-up from NDBC the morning of departure
  • Tides via GPS lookup table and from newspaper the night before activity
  • Moon phase from NOAA, newspaper, GPS, local TV
  • Fishing predictions from almanacs, or local TV and radio programs
  • Water quality and temperature data and source
  • Current information at the surface and at depth
  • Water depth and bottom information, accuracy and resolution of hydrographic data
  • Wind information from Sirius radio displayed on a chart plotter
  • The use of satellite imagery and how it’s accessed
  • The use of information on fish populations and locations

Discussions were also to address the reliability of the data–for instance wave height accuracy or winds, as well as if the available information supports localized conditions. The discussions should lead to the identification of data and products that would be useful if they were available. Some suggested examples included the following:

  • High resolution current information in a particular pass, around reefs, islands or in very popular fishing locations
  • Real-time water level (depth) information in a particular channel that is heavily influenced by local wind events
  • Updated and or higher resolution hydrographic (navigational chart) information
  • Accurate real time rip-tide information for particular beach locations

The breakout group began with introductions and past experience in recreational fisheries and diving. All had vast variety in recreational fishing experience that encompassed both inshore, nearshore and off-shore fishing. Three were accomplished near shore and off-shore fishers, one was strictly an off-shore fisher, while seven were more nearshore fishers. Three also had significant recreational diving experience. Eight owned boats that were in the 18-24 foot range, several had kayaks and other personal water crafts. The professional expertise included a professional fishing guide, recreational boat owner, several sea grant extension fishery faculty, staff at local marina, and several academic faculty and administrators.

The first phase of the discussions was a brainstorm session where the participants identified the following sources of information that they utilized in their recreational fishing and diving activities:

  1. NOAA’s online Marine Forecasts (wave/wind prediction and forecast)
  2. NDBC
  3. TV and Radio weather news
  4. PORTS (e.g., Tampa Bay, Mobile Bay)
  5. Navy Currents Prediction
  6. Charting weather software Program (purchased off the shelf)
  7. ROFFs Fishing Weather Service
  8. Specific Buoys (e.g., Cedar Key Buoy)
  9. In-Tel-a-Cast (provides Met date at 4 hour intervals)
  10. SailFlor.com
  11. Altimetry (software, paid service provider)
  12. SeaWifs (for Blue Water application via remote sensing – chlorophyll, temp, etc.
  13. On-board personal GIS equipment
  14. Personal networks (shrimpers, other boaters, friends to ground-truth existing data)
  15. XM and Sirius Radio (paid weather service)
  16. Local newspapers
  17. NOAA Radio
  18. Weatherbug.com
  19. Webcams set up at nearshore/off shore locations.

The second phase of the discussions was an identification of tools, products, services and informational needs the participants identified as things they could use, if available in their recreational fishing and diving activities (GOM = Gulf of Mexico):

  • Weed line location offshore (Entire GOM)
  • Temperature break information (Entire GOM)
  • Remote sensing of shrimp boat locations (West FL shelf, daily frequency from satellite with accuracy within 6 miles at 100% reliability
  • Smaller footprint for conditions for prediction
  • Smaller coverage area for marine forecasts (wind, waves, precipitation)
  • Wave height information over more area
  • Real time data from smaller coverage areas
  • Wave data from buoys
  • HF Radar network for GOM that supplies real-time surface currents, waves from near beach to 100 km offshore (full-time availability, full coast line)
  • Availability of all information through joint ventures among governmental agencies
  • Integrated portal on web for different sources of information
  • Easier public access to existing and new products, services, and information
  • Large fish location systems (via satellite tags)
  • VHS Distress Relay via buoys
  • Products that provide information on subsurface currents
  • Subsurface tidal current information for grouper substrate
  • Creation of opportunities for community and organizational investment in OOS products
  • Artificial reef minimum/standards/data buoy deployment
  • Placing of sensors on coast guard navigational aids
  • Salinity data in near real time
  • Dissolved oxygen particularly near bottom
  • Chlorophyll (a) information in near real time
  • Turbidity with depth profile in coastal waters

The third phase of the discussions was an identification of common products, services and informational needs that the participants consolidated from the listing in the second phase of the discussions. These included the following potential tools, products, services and informational needs:

  1. Instrumentation and observation platforms for wave and wind data at each major pass in the Florida at a 1-5 mile range.
  2. High Frequency Radar system (gathering wind/wave data) for the entire GOM.
  3. Higher resolution remote sensing products (e.g. weed line, boats, temperature)
  4. Display of products via GIS on similar scale
  5. Better spatial resolution for all forecasts
  6. An integrated web data portal that was both interagency and that displayed data that is not currently available (e.g. tag data).
  7. An internet “jump site” that would have URL links to key sites (directed to existing recreational fishing, diving and public health sites)
  8. VHF distress call relay system via existing buoys
  9. Better tool for measuring and distribution of data of subsurface currents
  10. Development and deployment of more buoys through public/private sector sponsorships (providing support for the infrastructure, maintenance and operations)
  11. Instrumentation at artificial reef sites and on aids to navigations
  12. More water quality products (e.g. salinity, turbidity, chlorophyll, dissolved oxygen, bacteriologic) both surface and bottom measurements.

Appendix 5: Search and Rescue Breakout Group

Chair: Larry Tieman, BoatUS
Facilitator: Chris Simoniello, GCOOS-RA

Types of Ocean Observations and Weather Information

  • Wave Height and Frequency
  • Current Weather Synoptic Situation
  • Atmospherics (Temp, Winds, Barometric Pressure, etc)
  • Forecast & Trends
  • Watches and Warnings
  • Tides & Currents
  • Water Temp, Clarity and O2 content

Current Sources of Information

  • News Outlets(TV & Radio)
  • Internet Links
  • NOAA VHF transmissions
  • XM Weather

Most Desirable Information Not Currently Available

  • Real time near shore sea state expressed in 1 ft increments
  • Real time near shore surface current
  • Reliable early warning of approaching hazardous weather giving the boater at least 30 to 60 minutes to prepare
  • Near real time visibility reports that give accurate indication of offshore sea fog
  • Updated Bathymetry of the coastal shore line with focus on inlets, passes and barrier islands
  • Real Time and forecast sea state and currents in our passes

Wish List of New Tools/Products

  1. Broad area near shore sea state observations perhaps from SHF radar with small buoys to give accurate waves and current information in or near our passes.
  2. Increase emphasis on near term hazardous weather forecasting using advanced weather radar observations that will provide the near coastal boater at least 30 minutes of advanced warning.
  3. User friendly dissemination using an internet page with a synoptic mapping tool that provides a one-stop-shop for pertinent observations and forecasts.

Appendix 6: Weekend Cruising and Offshore Sailing Breakout Group

Chair: Don Roman, University of Southern Mississippi (retired)
Facilitator: Bob Swett, Florida Sea Grant, University of Florida

Brainstorming Ideas – General Boating

  • GPS devices with internet access
  • Automatic alerts to mobile devices (e.g., weather)
  • Integrate NOAA weather warning
  • NOAA radio reports are by county; however, boaters may not know what county they are in. Need way for boaters to know which report is for them.
  • Product information availability at locations where it is needed (e.g., ramps)
  • Tampa Bay bridge → bad location; confluence of large and small boats
  • How to relay information for localized areas
  • Standardization of parameters (wave heights, shifts in channels)and presented at water access points (e.g., ramps, yacht clubs)
  • Access points → notification of conditions (e.g., relayed to advise boaters – forecasts)
  • Archival information (historical conditions for local areas); build a database for voyage planning; need this for small areas; knowing past conditions in an area can help one plan. GIS could be used to store such information, thus providing ability to zoom in to areas of interest.
  • Need to gather information
  • Look at needs by boater/boat population segments; for example, boats less than 21 feet in length (where most accidents occur); these populations may need different products; also consider delivery of this information at points where it is more timely/useful – such as Tampa Bay bridge where a lot of these boaters congregate (for example, a message at bridge warning of impending storm event).
  • Need observation platforms near shore (a denser distribution since this is where most boating occurs); but also off shore.
  • Radios – automatic switch to NOAA when there is an alert (VHF – automatic turn on and broadcast.
  • Before cruise – know regionalized weather.
  • Local papers – what additional information should they carry.
  • Get NOAA to come out with report on what the dominant wave height will be that day (current wave information is for marine transport industry and is not useful for recreational boaters
  • Galveston Bay – 3rd largest recreational boating area – need tide information/water depth related to weather conditions – for example, the effects of northerners on water depth for that boating day
  • Mandatory broadcast of spills, discharged, and bypasses (e.g., E. coli level exceeded)
  • Buoys – can we (boaters) receive data real time as we sail by (offshore, we can’t get this information by internet, etc.)
  • In Gulf – if one knew how quickly the weather changes (forecast ← → real-time), then could make better decision (head back home). Need this 1 to 2 hours in advance of oncoming weather.
  • Hazards – where to report floating containers, etc.
  • Example of presenting information in a way that is more intelligible to boaters/public: the hurricane track from line to cone of probability. Present information of general public understanding.
  • Forecast areas need to be smaller and targeted to highest density of boaters (highest density of boating activity)
  • Environmental information – include with broadcast of navigational information.
  • Communication path and products may need to be different for different segments of the boating population (e.g., boats ≤ 21 feet)
  • Big boats – wind more of a concern than for smaller boats.
  • How about instrumentation (sensor) of coast guard vessels and others to collect data
  • Safety – where is this a problem (what population) – how to get information to them.
  • Coordinate/collaborate – get information into one place for dissemination

Brainstorming Ideas – Health Issues

  • How to better get the word out to populations about toxins – red tide, etc.
  • Include all hazards in VHF broadcasts.
  • Problem – politics? E.g. tourism industry suppresses information?
  • Consider alerts that are used for other types of hazards (e.g., SMOG alerts). Can these examples be used for red tide?
  • Problem is detection – taste, see, etc.
  • IOS – improve access to information
  • Problem – length of events, their movements, etc.
  • Ramps → pollution warnings, and other hazards
  • DOH – need to better explain risks to the public; better ways to tell public when and where events occur so they can evaluate risk.
  • Problem → blocks between agencies – need to coordinate communication and coordination between agencies (politics): both horizontally and vertically (within agencies).
  • Observation: Florida – big subdivision of responsibilities (diffuses responsibility) and also redundancy of government structure

Ideas for New Data and Products or Suggestions for Informational Improvements

  • Clean up verbiage – stop weather speak
  • Educate boaters to use available weather info
  • Separate channel linking all biological hazards, i.e., discharges, bypasses, blooms, animals
  • Website to integrate all information; and have site with localized information/conditions
  • Split data – boat size 21 feet and under/over 21 feet
  • Real time water depth information (impact of winds that overwhelm tides, thus affecting depths)
  • More frequent wave height sensors within Tampa Bay (increase the number of sensors)
  • Actual wave height forecasts (~maximum) for recreational boaters (small craft)
  • More coastal wave buoys (Big Bend – Panhandle)
  • Wind, wave, and current data on mobile Internet (tide charts, new charts → appropriate for iPhone)
  • VHF auto weather warnings (for small zones/areas)
  • Smaller weather zones (data based on boat populations)
  • Need local weather changes versus standard NOAA weather forecast for general areas
  • Instrument all navigational buoys having transponders (1) to measure all standard Ocean Met parameters (including water depths, wind, tides, fronts, pressure, ChlA, wave height, highs & lows) in standard format, and (2) to broadcast continually with a GPS-compatible signal.

Weekend Cruiser and Offshore Sailing Group – Final Report

  1. All data and products should be more localized, consolidated, regionalized
  2. Information and products should be delivered at locations where boaters can use them in a timely fashion (e.g., at ramps, at bridges under which they fish). Implement such delivery mechanisms first in areas with the highest density of boaters.
  3. Develop/promote innovative delivery of information and products (e.g., GPS units with internet capability)
  4. Products and information should be developed for particular segments of the boating population (e.g., boats ≤ 21 feet)
  5. Need real-time, localized delivery of information, for example:
    1. Weather → while on the water so as to inform decisions (e.g., should we head back in to shore)
    2. Environmental → also to inform decision making while on the water (e.g., red tide, water quality)
  6. Archival data
  7. Expand real-time data (sensors/responders) for localized areas
  8. Education – need common and broadly understood terminology/verbiage