Ocean buoy system clears House, Senate

Posted March 25, 2009, at 8:58 p.m.

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill that, among other things, gives congressional authorization to the Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System.

The House vote Wednesday follows last week’s approval of the measure by the U.S. Senate, bringing an end to GoMOOS’ status as a pilot project, pending approval by President Obama.

As a pilot of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the GoMOOS weather buoy system had its funding cut significantly this past year, which resulted in the number of buoys in the network being cut from 11 to six.

Fishermen, shipping companies, scientists, government officials and even surfers are among those who over the past decade have come to rely upon the buoy system for information, GoMOOS officials have said.

The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 does not include any additional funding for GoMOOS, which fell from more than $1 million to approximately $500,000 last year.

But U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democrat who represents Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, said in a statement that the permanent authorization of the GoMOOS system improves the chances that the program will receive “more stable funding in the future.”

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said the measure will help support increased oceanic research.

GoMOOS will become part of a national weather buoy network, which should help lead to further development of ocean observation technologies and increased data capacity and accessibility.

The act also will establish two programs at NOAA, one aimed at ocean exploration and another aimed at undersea research, according to Snowe.

“We literally know more about the surface of the moon than we do about what lies beneath the waves,” Snowe said in the statement. “Today Congress confirmed its commitment to realizing the vast potential of ocean science and research.”

btrotter@bangordailynews.net

460-6318

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