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THE COASTAL MARINE INSTITUTE


A University Research Initiative Program involving the University of California, the State of California, and the Minerals Management Service of the US Department of Interior. 


** IN THE NEWS **
The MMS Ocean Science magazine has an article about CMI funded research:
Harvesting the Deep:  Marine Biotechnology Research and Potential

 

      



 

    

PURPOSE


 

The Coastal Marine Institute (CMI) program was created within the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) through a cooperative agreement with the Minerals Management Service (MMS).  This program will take advantage of the highly qualified, scientific expertise at local levels to collect and disseminate environmental information needed for OCS oil and gas and marine minerals decisions; to address local and regional OCS related environmental and resource issues of mutual interest; and to strengthen the MMS-State partnership in addressing OCS oil and gas and Marine Minerals Service information needs. 

 

 

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BACKGROUND


 

Offshore oil and gas production have occurred in two areas of the Federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), the Gulf of Mexico and Southern California.  Leasing and exploration activities have taken place in these areas as well as many other areas of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Alaska OCS.  The effects of exploration and development are being addressed through the Minerals Management Service's (MMS) Environmental Studies Program (ESP).  Since 1973, the MMS has funded numerous studies in each of the four OCS Regions (Alaska, Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Pacific) to meet information needs on a wide variety of topics associated with the offshore, coastal, and onshore environment. 

 

 

Through the ESP's history, MMS has found that information needs are not static.  New information often brings forth new technical questions, patterns of OCS development change, and public concerns change.  In spite of changing information needs, the ESP has accomplished many important things.  For example, early concerns about catastrophic acute effects upon the marine environment seem unwarranted; and, in most OCS regions, an excellent descriptive base for future studies has been developed (see National Research Council [NRC] 1983, NRC [1985], NRC [1990], NRC [1992a, 1992b] and NRC [1993]). 

 

 

While MMS has effectively addressed numerous environmental issues associated with offshore oil and gas development, there still remain concerns which must be fully addressed.  For example, while acute effects appear to be minor and restricted to the immediate vicinity of development and production, further understanding of marine environmental processes on the OCS is necessary for a full understanding of potential chronic and more physically remote effects.  Moreover, as the volume of environmental studies results and data has greatly increased since 1973, management and dissemination of environmental information has not kept pace. 

  

 

To ensure that MMS's ESP continues to meet its mandate under the OCS Land Act, it is essential that the ESP include process oriented studies in addition to monitoring and descriptive studies in order to increase predictive capabilities to support management decisions.  Studies and research must continue to be conducted in an impartial, scientific manner.  The results of these efforts should be recognized by the various interest groups, as well as the scientific community, as unbiased findings of experts.  While scientific information should be accepted regardless of origin of the research, scientific information collected for leasing, exploration, and development decisions tends to be more readily accepted by the local and regional populace if the studies are conducted by well known and scientifically respected local experts and institutions. 

 

 

Because MMS and the States have distinct, but complimentary, roles in the process that leads to the lead Federal Agency decisions, scientific information is needed by MMS, and the State and localities potentially affected by OCS operation.  In light of this, MMS developed a Coastal Marine Institute (CMI) program.  Under this program, MMS takes advantage of highly qualified, scientific expertise at local levels to:

 

1. collect and disseminate environmental information needed for OCS oil and gas marine minerals decisions;

 

2. address local and regional OCS related environmental and resource issues of mutual interest; and

 

3. strengthen the MMS-State partnership in addressing OCS oil and gas and marine minerals information needs. 

 

 

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OBJECTIVES


 

Respond to MMS, State and local information needs and interests with local expertise of national caliber in the OCS relevant disciplines found at a major university in an active OCS region;

 

Broaden recognition and comprehension of study results through performance, and presentation of findings by a highly credible local research institution;

 

Improve existing local capabilities and facilities for innovative scientific research relevant to OCS resource management issues;

 

Use the interdisciplinary environment of a research university to foster process oriented studies, needed technologies and concepts, and syntheses of information that will benefit environmental and resource management;

 

Achieve consensus between MMS and California regarding the most important environmental research needs relevant to the OCS Program; and

 

Reduce the costs to California and MMS of obtaining resource management information by co-funding information acquisition activities. 

 

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