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Research Priorities in the Insular Pacific: Transforming Research into Regional Management

Recent advancements in U.S. ocean management have occurred in response to the difficulty faced by government jurisdictions to adequately respond to increasingly severe drivers of environmental stress. These include a new National Ocean Policy that has been articulated in the White House Executive Order, “Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts and the Great Lakes” (Obama, 2010) and an Ocean Research Priorities Plan and Implementation Strategy (JSOST, 2007) that was developed by the National Science and Technology Council. Both plans set forth priorities for ocean and coastal research and management policy.

In response to these federal mandates and the emerging emphasis on ecosystem-based management, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has initiated a program to identify the ocean research and information needs in each of the nation’s major coastal ecoregion to support the new national policy objectives. The Insular Pacific is one such region formally identified by NOAA and includes the state of Hawai‘i, the territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), as well as the freely-associated states of the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). The NOAA National Sea Grant Office has charged the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program (UH Sea Grant) to develop and implement a plan to identify the ocean research priorities for the Insular Pacific Region. The research priorities and associated recommendations identified in plan implementation form the basis of this report.

Purpose, Goals, and Objectives of the Insular Pacific Research Needs Assessment Report

The purpose of this report is to provide NOAA with research and information priorities relative to ocean and coastal management needs in the Insular Pacific Region. The primary goals of the report are to:

a) Create a foundation to support contemporary plans and approaches to integrated coastal management in the Insular Pacific Region
b) Help develop a platform for a U.S. Pacific Island Regional Ocean Partnership
c) Develop strategic concepts and recommended actions useful for creating implementation frameworks for addressing identified priorities
d) Identify and prioritize managerial relevant research priorities as identified by stakeholders and government jurisdictions in the Insular Pacific Region

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Publication Date
June 2012