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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY A 1983 presidential proclamation created a 200-mile-wide belt of seabed jurisdiction adjacent to the United States and its island territories—the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The proclamation extends U.S. sovereign rights in this region for the purposes of exploring, utilizing, conserving, and managing natural resources. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) conduct a coordinated program of mapping and research activities in the EEZ under their Joint Office for Mapping and Research (JOMAR). In addition to conducting mapping and research activities, JOMAR's objective is to provide leadership for the design, implementation, and coordination of a national program for appraisal of the EEZ and its non-living resources. At the request of the Director of the USGS and the Administrator of NOAA, the Marine Board established a committee representing the major non-federal users of seabed information to assist JOMAR in identifying the needs and priorities of the states, academia, and industry for data and mapping in the EEZ. This report is the culmination of the first phase of the committee's activities and presents the results of two courses of investigation linked by common aims: first, an analysis of the needs of the coastal states and territories for information about the EEZ in relation to plans for future uses of offshore areas, based on a questionnaire sent to the U.S. coastal states and territories; and second, the results of the committee's independent research on the data needs associated with specific present and potential EEZ uses or activities. The aims of this two-pronged approach are to encompass the core issues common to both the users and uses of the EEZ. The survey of the states and territories identified five principal concerns: management of biological resources, mineral resources, environmental assessment, shoreline management, and regionally focused interest in oil and gas development activities. Requirements for data related to pipelines, cables, ocean energy development, geohazards, cultural and recreational interests, and military uses were of much less general concern, although occasionally of regional importance. All respondents gave high priority to acquisition of seabed information for research. Priority of data required varies with both type of use and stage of development. However, generalizing from the results of the survey, bathymetry and characterization of bottom sediments were the highest priority information desired. Seafloor imagery, high-resolution shallow penetration seismic profiles, and geophysical data (especially deep seismic profiles) follow in order of importance for the principal applications listed. Findings from the committee's independent research determined that bathymetry and sediment characterization were the highest priority data needs for seabed uses and activities, with shallow penetration profiling and seafloor imagery next in importance. Because programs in bathymetry and seafloor imagery are currently being conducted by the USGS and NOAA, the committee concluded that the priority need for the next systematic wave of data gathering should be on bottom sediment characterization (including associated high-resolution shallow penetration profiling). 1
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2 The committee also considered criteria for establishing priorities for the geographic focus of EEZ activities based on a balance between the states' interest in areas immediately offshore their most populated centers and the nation's interest in information about deepwater regions. This led to a conclusion that corridor swaths extending from the shoreline to the EEZ boundary are preferable to site-specific locales or coast-wise blocks. Included in the committee's overall task is an evaluation of data management and dissemination aspects of EEZ activities. It was determined that a fundamental prerequisite to the effective use of limited resources is the definition and implementation of a well thought out and carefully designed data and information system to support the acquisition of new data. The committee concludes that this data system must be complete, ranging from data acquisition through and including distribution to end users in forms and formats suited to their needs. a c, Future reports will examine information needs of other segments of the non-federal user community, including industry and research organizations that have an interest in information about the nation's offshore areas, and continue to explore the common issues of technology needs and data management concerns associated with present and potential uses of the EEZ. The findings and conclusions in this report are preliminary and subject to revision in future reports by this committee. Recommendations for action will be presented in a final report.
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