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50 Years of Ocean Discovery: National Science Foundation 1950—2000
matter of curiosity. Our very survival may hinge upon it." This status had been achieved largely through Navy interest in the oceans. ONR-sponsored oceanography roared into the 1960s, solidifying a strong infrastructure for blue-water oceanographic institutions in the United States. The percentage of NSF funding also increased, resulting in an academic structure based primarily on supporting federal research with little academic and local funding.
Expanding Requirements and Shifting Priorities
As the influence and support of ONR, NSF, and NAS drove oceanographic research into the 1960s, there arose a renewed interest in the economic and environmental aspects of ocean research. The Mansfield Amendment requiring ONR's ocean research to be defense related caused some uncertainty and ultimately shifted responsibility for some types of basic research to NSF. Legislation in support of the International Decade of Ocean Exploration (IDOE) nearly doubled NSF's funding for ocean science. The National Sea Grant College Act was introduced by Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island, and on its passage in 1966 the program initially was placed under NSF. In the same year, Congress passed the Marine Resources and Engineering Development Act of 1966 authorizing a Commission on Marine Science, Engineering and Resources, more commonly known today as the Stratton Commission.
The primary objectives of the Stratton Commission were to support the expanding economy and develop marine resources. In January 1969, the Stratton Commission released its influential report Our Nation and the Sea (CMSER, 1969). The report made 126 recommendations spread over 17 categories. From these recommendations a flurry of legislation was enacted: the Coastal Zone Management Act, the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Based on the report's recommendations, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was established in 1970 with Robert White as its first administrator. NOAA was tasked with administering these new laws; conducting integrated ocean and atmospheric research, and Earth data collection; and providing related grants for research, education, and advisory services.
Other important environmental legislation such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, was enacted in 1970. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was formed as an independent agency within the Executive branch. At the international level, negotiations of a new treaty on the Law of the Sea were initiated in the early 1970s. As the environmental movement grew, so did the number of ocean-related environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as Greenpeace and the Center for Marine Conservation. Many coastal laboratories expanded their research into marine pollution and living marine resources; however, the blue-water institutions with longer traditions of basic research were not as quick to move into these emerging fields.
The NAS remained active following the release of the Stratton Commission report. In the early 1970s, NAS convened the Ocean Affairs Board chaired by Robert Morse. The board produced several important reports on topics ranging from the Law of the Sea, to climate prediction, numerical modeling, and offshore petroleum resources. Later in the 1970s, the NAS established the Ocean Sciences Board and the Ocean Policy Committee. The Ocean Sciences Board, chaired by John Steele, produced reports on NOAA, the need for increased large-scale marine research on climate, and other issues in the 1980s. The Ocean Policy Committee, chaired by Edward Miles and Paul Fye, produced reports on the Law of the Sea, fisheries, and other international marine policy issues.
The expansion of ocean-related research led the academic community to form its own associations, for example, the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) and the National Association of Marine Laboratories (NAML). In 1976, ten leading U.S. blue-water oceanographic institutions formed the Joint Oceanographic Institutions (JOI), Inc. to facilitate and foster the integration of program and facility requirements and to bring to bear the collective capabilities of the individual oceanographic institutions on research planning and management of ocean sciences. JOI continues to manage the Ocean Drilling Program and the U.S. Science Support Program.
In 1983, NAS merged its ocean science and policy boards to form the Board on Ocean Sciences and Policy. John Slaughter chaired the board that produced several reports on oil development, ocean dumping, and climate. In 1985, the board was renamed the Ocean Studies Board (OSB). Walter Munk was the first chair, followed by John Sclater, Carl Wunsch, William Merrell, and Kenneth Brink. The OSB has produced more than 50 reports on a broad array of topics ranging from climate to coastal ecosystems and from fisheries and marine mammals to improved integration of science and policy. The number of committees of the board expanded, including the Committees on Major U.S. Ocean Research Programs, U.S.-Mexico Collaboration for Ocean Science Research, Operational Global Ocean Observing System, Fish Stock Assessment Methods, and Ecosystem Management for Sustainable Marine Fisheries.
As the range of OSB committees indicates, support for oceanographic research in the 1980s began to increasingly reflect the demand and need to address a diverse range of issues and problems. This trend continued into the 1990s. The president of JOI, Dr. D. James Baker, was appointed by newly elected President Clinton to head NOAA. The OSB reviewed NOAA and Navy research programs and convened Committees on Science and Policy for the Coastal Ocean, Identifying High-Priority Science to Meet National Coastal Needs, Biological Diversity in Marine Systems, and Low-Frequency Sound and Marine Mammals. Throughout this