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Blog Category: Jane Lubchenco

NOAA and FDA Announce Chemical Test for Dispersant in Gulf Seafood

Building upon the extensive testing and protocols already in use by federal, state and local officials for the fishing waters of the Gulf, NOAA and FDA have developed and are using a chemical test to detect dispersants used in the Deepwater Horizon-BP oil spill in fish, oysters, crab and shrimp. Trace amounts of the chemicals used in dispersants are common, and levels for safety have been previously set.

Experts trained in a rigorous sensory analysis process have been testing Gulf seafood for the presence of contaminants, and every seafood sample from reopened waters has passed sensory testing for contamination with oil and dispersant. Nonetheless, to ensure consumers have total confidence in the safety of seafood being harvested from the Gulf, NOAA and FDA have added this second test for dispersant when considering reopening Gulf waters to fishing.

Using this new, second test, in the Gulf scientists have tested 1,735 tissue samples including more than half of those collected to reopen Gulf of Mexico federal waters. Only a few showed trace amounts of dispersants residue (13 of the 1,735) and they were well below the safety threshold of 100 parts per million for finfish and 500 parts per million for shrimp, crabs and oysters. As such, they do not pose a threat to human health.  NOAA release

NOAA Establishes Supercomputing Center in West Virginia

Image depicting new state-of-the-art NOAA supercomputer center in Fairmont, W. VaNOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco today announced a $27.6 million American Reinvestment and Recovery Act investment to build a new state-of-the-art supercomputer center in Fairmont, W. Va. Lubchenco was joined by U.S. Rep. Alan B. Mollohan for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the NOAA Environmental Security Computing Center (NESCC), which is geared to develop and improve the accuracy of global and regional climate and weather model predictions.

“This state-of-the-art supercomputer will not only give NOAA a powerful new tool in climate and weather modeling and service delivery, it will also cement north central West Virginia's reputation as a growing high-tech center,” said Rep. Mollohan. “This facility will help anchor the I-79 Technology Park for decades to come.”  Read more

NOAA Reopens More than 30,000 Square Miles in the Gulf to Fishing

Map of Reopened Fishing AreaToday NOAA reopened 3,114 square miles of Gulf waters offshore of the western Florida panhandle to commercial and recreational fishing. The reopening was announced after consultation with FDA and under a re-opening protocol agreed to by NOAA, the FDA, and the Gulf states.

Trajectory models show the area is at a low risk for future exposure to oil, and fish caught in the area and tested by NOAA experts have shown no signs of contamination.

“We are pleased to continue moving forward with reopening portions of Gulf federal waters to recreational and commercial fishing,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “I’d like to thank everyone for their patience throughout this process, as we work to ensure seafood safety remains our primary objective.”

At its closest point, the area to be reopened is about 55 miles northeast of the Deepwater/BP wellhead. The total area is about one percent of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Release

Scientists Release the First Rescued, Rehabilitated Sea Turtles Back into the Gulf

Photo of Kemp’s ridley sea turtleCommerce's NOAA administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco and Adm. Thad Allen joined state, federal, and partner biologists today as they released 23 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles back into the Gulf of Mexico near Cedar Key, Fla., after the turtles were successfully rescued and rehabilitated from the effects of the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill.

“I'm pleased that Admiral Allen and I were able to assist with the release of these turtles. And we thank all of our partners in this rescue and rehabilitation effort,” said Dr. Lubchenco. “This is a wonderful day for all involved--but especially for the turtles.”

“This area near Cedar Key provides excellent habitat for Kemp’s ridley sea turtles and has long been known as an important habitat area for this species,” said Barbara Schroeder, NOAA’s national sea turtle coordinator. “Thanks to the efforts of our rescue teams and rehabilitation facility partners all of the turtles we released today have an excellent chance of surviving in the wild and contributing to the recovery of this species.”  Read full NOAA release

NOAA Reopens More Than 5,000 Square Miles of Closed Gulf Fishing Area

Map of Gulf WatersToday NOAA reopened 5,144 square miles of Gulf waters to commercial and recreational finfish fishing. The reopening was announced after consultation with FDA and under a reopening protocol agreed to by NOAA, the FDA, and the Gulf states.

Since July 3, NOAA data have shown no oil in the area, and United States Coast Guard observers flying over the area in the last 30 days have also not observed any oil. Trajectory models show the area is at a low risk for future exposure to oil and, most importantly, fish caught in the area and tested by NOAA experts have shown no signs of contamination.

“Consumer safety is NOAA’s primary concern, which is why we developed rigorous safety standards in conjunction with the FDA and the Gulf states to ensure that seafood is safe in the reopened area,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “We are confident that Gulf fish from this area is safe to eat and pleased that recreational and commercial fisherman can fish these waters again.”  Read more

Secretary Locke Lauds New National Space Policy as Pro Business

Image of rocket launchPresident Obama’s new National Space Policy sets goals and guidelines for American space activities and promotes a robust and competitive U.S. commercial space sector, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said today.  The policy also puts increased emphasis on space-based environmental observations and international cooperation, both critical functions of the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The policy, released today, is the Obama administration’s first comprehensive policy guiding our endeavors in space. It addresses commercial space by directing government agencies to encourage and facilitate the growth of a U.S. commercial space sector through increased U.S. purchases of commercial space goods, reducing the regulatory impact on the space industry and actively promoting the export of U.S. space products.  Read more   White House fact sheet

Find additional information about the National Space Policy at www.space.commerce.gov.

NOAA Launches Website With Online Mapping Tool to Track Gulf Response

Image of mapping tool

The dynamic nature of the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill has been a challenge for a range of communities--from hotel operators to fishermen to local community leaders. And the American people have questions about the response to this crisis.

Today, Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) launches a new federal Web site meant to answer those questions with clarity and transparency--a one-stop shop for detailed near-real-time information about the response to the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill. The Web site incorporates data from the various agencies that are working together to tackle the spill.

Originally designed for responders, who make operational decisions, to the oil spill disaster, http://www.GeoPlatform.gov/gulfresponse integrates the latest data on the oil spill’s trajectory, fishery closed areas, wildlife and place-based Gulf Coast resources--such as pinpointed locations of oiled shoreline and daily position of research ships--into one customizable interactive map.

Image of Deep Drill 3 platformThe launch of the public site is designed to facilitate communication and coordination among a variety of users--from federal, state and local responders to local community leaders and the public--the site is designed to be fast, user-friendly and constantly updated.

Beyond NOAA data, the site includes data from Homeland Security, the Coast Guard, the Fish and Wildlife Service, EPA, NASA , U.S. Geological Survey and the Gulf states . Agencies contribute data through the response data sharing mechanism within the command posts. This includes posting geospatial data on a common server, allowing access and use for multiple spatial platforms.

“This Web site provides users with an expansive, yet detailed geographic picture of what’s going on with the spill; Gulf Coast fisherman, recreational boaters, beach users and birders will be able to become more informed,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator. “It’s a common operational picture that allows the American people to see how their government is responding to the crisis.”

Developed through a joint partnership between NOAA and the University of New Hampshire’s Coastal Response Research Center, the site is a Web-based GIS platform designed specifically for response activities where it is necessary to coordinate with various federal, state and local agencies. The site will serve as the official federal source for map-based data.  Interactive Map   Deepwater Horizon update

http://gomex.erma.noaa.gov/

NOAA Administrator Discusses NOAA Ship Research Mission to Spill Area

Alternate TextCmdr. Shepard Smith, commanding officer, Administrator Lubchenco and Larry Mayer at press conference.NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, a 208-foot survey vessel, sailed from New Orleans today to conduct a 10-day mission in the vicinity of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Researchers will take water samples and test advanced methods for detecting submerged oil while gathering oceanographic data in the area's coastal waters.

NOAA Ship Thomas JeffersonDr. Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator, Cmdr. Shepard Smith, commanding officer, NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson and Larry Mayer, professor and director, University of New Hampshire Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping held a news conference in New Orleans to discuss the research mission. Administrator Lubchenco offered more information on the NOAA effort on a live CNN segment earlier in the day.

Tracking the Spill
NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson dispatched to Gulf of Mexico
NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson ship information and background