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General Plan Information

The purpose of the Plan is to provide up-to-date, cohesive, and strategic guidance for the Federal ocean science and technology enterprise. That guidance must be informed by and in alignment with the broader ocean science and technology community and the science-based information needs of resource managers, policy-makers, educators, communities, and stakeholders. The Plan will establish ocean science, technology, and innovation targets in the broader context of overall Earth sciences to inform environmental, economic, and social outcomes at local, regional, national, and global scales. The Plan will also guide Federal and other ocean sectors as they align resources to support the high priority research goals and activities described in the Plan.

The Plan will not cover all ocean issues. It will capture those areas that Federal agencies and the ocean community identify as opportunities to significantly advance science, technology, and innovation for societal benefit in the coming decade. The Plan may also be useful to inform activities of non-Federal entities that support ocean research, including those activities coordinated with and complementary to Federal efforts. As a research-focused document, the Plan will not prescribe policies. It will, however, emphasize research and related activities that will generate the information necessary to make sound decisions and promote effective policies.

As currently structured, the Plan will include Societal Themes, Research Goals, and Research Activities, as described below. The topics noted here are examples to provide an idea of the scale and scope envisioned for the Societal Themes and Research Goals and are presented as a starting point for discussion. This list is not final or inclusive. The Societal Themes, Research Goals, and Research Activities included in the Plan will be informed by community engagement and public input.

1. “Societal Themes” highlight the benefits-based rationale for conducting ocean research. Representative examples of areas that could be included as “Societal Themes” are:

  • Ensuring Resource Availability and Sustainable Use;
  • Conserving Ocean Ecosystems;
  • Understanding the Relationship between the Ocean and Human Health;
  • Clarifying the Ocean’s Role in Earth and Atmospheric Processes;
  • Contributing to the Economy and Social Well-Being;
  • Enhancing the Protection and Resilience of Coastal Communities; and
  • Informing Marine Operations and National Security.
  • 2. “Research Goals” reflect and address the Societal Themes. Representative examples of potential “Research Goals” could be:

    • To Quantify the Role of the Ocean in Climate Variability;
    • To Predict Changing Ocean Conditions;
    • To Inform Societal Responses under Various Management Options;
    • To Characterize Ocean Habitats and Biodiversity;
    • To Improve Understanding of the Human Component of Ocean Ecosystems; and
    • To Explore Unknown Areas and Processes of the Ocean.

    3. “Research Activities” support the Research Goals and represent current and growing opportunities to provide the Nation with the scientific and technical means to address the Societal Themes. The Research Activities will be identified once the Societal Themes and Research Goals are determined, and be presented in the Draft Plan for public review.


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