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The oceans and atmosphere are interacting parts of the total environmental system upon which we depend, not only for the quality of our lives, but for life itself.

We face immediate and compelling needs for better protection of life and property from natural hazards, and for a better understanding of the total environment -- an understanding which will enable us more effectively to monitor and predict its actions, and ultimately, perhaps to exercise some degree of control over them.

We also face a compelling need for exploration and development leading to the intelligent use of our marine resources. We must understand the nature of these resources, and assure their development without either contaminating the marine environment or upsetting its balance.

Establishment of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration -- NOAA -- within the Department of Commerce would enable us to approach these tasks in a coordinated way. [1]

With these words, published in July 1970, President Richard M. Nixon proposed the creation of a new agency -- the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The proposal, which was coupled with the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, was part of a reorganization effort, which, according to the reorganization plan itself, was designed to unify the nation's widely scattered, piece-meal environmental activities and provide a rational and systematic approach to understanding, protecting, developing and enhancing the total environment. In addition to a specific responsibility for the rational development and conservation of marine fisheries, NOAA was to lead the development of a consolidated national oceanic and atmospheric research and development program and provide a variety of scientific and technical services to other Federal agencies, private sector interests and the general public.

The goals, responsibilities and programs of NOAA today reflect a continued commitment to the philosophy which created it. NOAA's primary mission and the ultimate goal of all its activities is to predict environmental changes on a wide range of time and space scales in order to protect life and property, and provide industry and government decision-makers with a reliable base of scientific information.

Specifically, NOAA is a science-based agency which has the responsibility to predict changes in the oceanic and atmospheric environments and living marine resources, and to provide related data, information, and services to the public, industry, the research community, and other government agencies. These efforts range from warnings of severe events on short time-scales to information on climate shifts over decades or more. The main purpose of these efforts is to support NOAA's operational environmental warning, forecast, prediction, assessment, and information management responsibilities.

Just as they fulfill NOAA's environmental prediction responsibility, most, if not all, of the Agency's activities also contribute to the major Department of Commerce goal of Stimulating Productivity and Economic Development. Providing reliable forecasts and warnings of changing environmental conditions (like severe weather) protects life and property and enables industry to take appropriate actions. NOAA's programs to predict and assess significant changes in the ocean, coastal and Great Lakes environments ensures the safe, efficient, and cost-effective use of those marine environments and their resources and promotes the development of associated industry. Providing reliable fishery stock assessments and projections can significantly enhance the magnitude of the contribution of the domestic fishing industry to the U.S. balance of trade.

Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.

Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:24 AM

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