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Undersea Research and Ocean Exploration

Thursday, July 27, 2006 - 12:00am
Washington, D.C.
<a href="">H.R. 3835</a>, the National Ocean Exploration Program Act of 2005 and the Undersea Research Program Act of 2005

Opening Statement By Hon. David Wu

Good afternoon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman for holding this hearing on ocean exploration and research.

Our nation has the fortunate advantage of vast coastal and oceanic resources.  Over half of our citizens live in coastal watersheds.  Our ocean and coastal resources are the basis of billions of dollars of economic activities including recreation, fisheries, oil and mineral extraction, and transportation.  Healthy oceans are critical to our future.  Improved knowledge to manage ocean and coastal resources in a more sustainable fashion is essential if we are to continue to derive the full benefit of these valuable assets now and into the future.

We are coming upon the two-year anniversary of the release of the report by the U.S. Ocean Commission.  Unfortunately, few of its recommendations have moved forward.

The Commission’s report notes the President’s Panel on Ocean Exploration called for a robust national ocean exploration program in 2000.  The panel’s recommendation was to initiate multidisciplinary expeditions funded at a level of seventy-five million dollars per year.  Their recommendation led to the establishment of NOAA’s Office of Exploration in 2001 with a budget of four million dollars.

The Commission report indicates the small budget of NOAA’s Office of Exploration and its agency-specific focus, limit its effectiveness.  They recommended NOAA combine its efforts with those of the National Science Foundation to link NOAA’s exploration activities to NSF’s strong traditional oceanic research programs.

There is no shortage of enthusiasm for ocean exploration and there are still vast unexplored areas of the ocean.  However, we are constrained by the budget available to fund all the expeditions we would like to undertake.  H.R. 3835 authorizes additional funding for NOAA’s programs in ocean exploration and undersea research, but without expanding NOAA’s overall budget I do not see how we will be able to act upon the recommendations of the U.S. Ocean Commission.

The Administration proposed combining NOAA’s ocean exploration program with the National Undersea Research Program (NURP).  H.R. 3835 appears to maintain these programs as separate entities.  I am very interested to hear the opinions of our witnesses this afternoon about this proposal.

I would like to welcome our panel of witnesses today and thank you for participating in the hearing.  I look forward to hearing your testimony.

Download the opening statement text.


Panel 1

1 - Hon. Jim Saxton
Representative from the State of New Jersey

Panel 2

2 - Andrew Shepard
Director, Southeastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico
National Undersea Research Programs University of North Carolina University of North Carolina
Download the Witness Testimony

3 - Dr. Marcia McNutt
President and Chief Executive Officer Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Download the Witness Testimony

1 - Dr. Richard Spinrad
Assistant Administrator, Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administr
Download the Witness Testimony

109th Congress