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Water: Oceans, Coasts, Estuaries & Beaches

Subcommittee on Integrated Management of Ocean Resources (SIMOR)

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The purpose of the Subcommittee on Integrated Management of Ocean Resources (SIMOR) is to identify and promote opportunities among federal agencies for collaboration and cooperation on the development and implementation of management strategies with the goal of cleaner, healthier, and more productive oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes.

What we do

Improving communication and coordination

SIMOR provides an important forum for broad interagency communication and coordination of a variety of existing and new resource management activities. SIMOR also provides an important role in fostering professional relationships across agencies, bridging differences in institutional perspectives, overcoming administrative barriers, and providing a forum for crosscutting coordination of activities, resulting in more effective federal ocean governance. In addition to coordination of resource management, SIMOR also provides a common federal “voice” to resource management issues with other federal coordination bodies, continually improving communication and coordination mechanisms, both within and outside the federal governance structure.

Providing a federal framework to support regional governance

SIMOR has provided a forum to facilitate the establishment of federal interagency coordination at the regional level to engage with, or within, regional governance initiatives. One result of this role is a single interagency body that can look across regional governance initiatives to assess common national challenges. SIMOR maintains an active role in facilitating coordination and consultation with an increasing number of regional initiatives, and continues to seek out opportunities to enhance coordination with emerging regional activities.

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Our Focus

Priority Area 1: Provide a federal coordination mechanism to respond to the priorities of state and regional governance partnerships, including emerging issues of national significance.

Priority Area 2: Ensure that research needs for effective resource management and policy are met, and that research results can, and are, applied by resource managers.

Priority Area 3: Facilitate improved understanding of climate change impacts on resources, implications for management, and adaptive strategies for the nation.

Priority Area 4: Support ocean education, outreach, and capacity building necessary for public understanding and support of science, and science-based resource management aligned with resource management priorities such as those above.

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Work Areas

The Arctic

No single region better exemplifies the complexity and interdependence of communities and changing ecosystem conditions than the Arctic. The Arctic and sub-Arctic regions already are experiencing significant environmental and economic impacts from climate change. Arctic environmental changes have altered major ecological factors and natural habitats, leading to changes in the distribution and migration patterns of fish and marine mammals. Increasing demands for maritime transportation services, as Arctic sea ice lessens, will cause increased pressures on limited resources in an already fragile ecosystem. Confronting these challenges requires a coordinated approach to planning, governance and management.


Hypoxic zones in coastal waters are fast becoming a global problem, having been reported in more than 400 coastal systems and affecting an area of more than 245,000 sq km. Most hypoxic zones can be linked to increases in nutrient concentrations, primarily anthropogenic nitrogen in coastal waters. The increased nutrients cause extensive growths of algae that deplete the oxygen in the water when they die, sink to the bottom, and decompose. The known impacts of hypoxia include impacts on fisheries, particularly groundfish and benthic organisms, as well as degraded water quality. Broader ecosystem impacts are suspected but more difficult to quantify. SIMOR will provide, at the national scale, the needed collaboration and cooperation on the development and implementation of management strategies for cleaner, healthier, and more productive coastal waters.

Marine Spatial Planning

The use of the term “Marine Spatial Planning” has become ubiquitous in policy circles recently. The concept of marine spatial planning can encompass a wide spectrum of forms ranging from information sharing, coordination, and mapping/inventory of existing uses - to the prior application of decision rules by a single authority, similar to, but more dynamic than land-use models. There are also a plethora of tools that have been developed or are in development to implement marine spatial planning, States too have begun moving forward with planning initiatives. For example, both the states of California and Massachusetts have begun to incorporate tenets of marine spatial planning into their management regimes. A multi-sector approach is needed to further define the term marine spatial planning including the requirements, capabilities, and recommended forms of governance.

Ocean Acidification

Ocean Acidification describes the decrease in seawater pH due to the relatively rapid increase of atmospheric CO2 over the past two centuries, and the subsequent absorption by the oceans of this excess CO2. Ocean acidification can affect calcifying marine organisms, particularly corals and many of the species that form the basis of the ocean food web. Recently, efforts to understand, track and manage ocean acidification have been growing, as Federal agencies, regional entities, states and policymakers begin to focus more attention on the issue. Clearly, an emerging issue of national significance, the growing body of ocean acidification research efforts and federal and regional programmatic activities would benefit from coordination through SIMOR in terms of informing resource management strategies.

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