1998 Declared Year Of The Ocean

1998 has been declared Year of the Ocean by the United Nations in recognition of the many challenges and opportunities offered by the ocean as we enter the 21st century. The ocean affects our weather and climate, provides a home to fisheries, which are a major food source for the world, and is largely unexplored in its depths. As the world population and standard of living grows, nations need to understand the impact of the ocean and the importance of sustainable use of ocean resources.

The immense impact of the ocean on all nations was particularly strong in 1997 -- as one of the strongest El Niños impacted weather all over the globe, and toxic algal blooms poisoned fisheries in many U. S. coastal areas. These and other events have prompted a global wake-up call that lends urgency to the U.N. declaration. The U.S. Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is taking a leading role in the U.S. Year of the Ocean effort to promote public awareness and understanding of the ocean.

"One out of every six jobs in the United States is marine related," said Commerce Secretary William M. Daley "What's more, 95 percent of U.S. foreign trade passes through U.S. ports and harbors in ships. One-third of our gross domestic product is produced in coastal areas through fishing, transportation, recreation, and related industries."

More than half of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of the coast and 40 percent of new commercial development in recent years has occurred near the coast. "As part of the Department of Commerce, NOAA is responsible for working with states and private industry to show how development can proceed while critical environmental issues are addressed," said NOAA Administrator D. James Baker.

"Shifts in weather patterns associated with El Niño are powerful reminders of how the ocean joins with the atmosphere to affect our lives," said Baker. "In

Contact: Matt Stout
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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