Expert Report

A Review of the Ocean Research Priorities Plan and Implementation Strategy (2007)

Each report is produced by a committee of experts selected by the Academy to address a particular statement of task and is subject to a rigorous, independent peer review; while the reports represent views of the committee, they also are endorsed by the Academy. Learn more on our expert consensus reports.

Ocean research offers countless benefits, from improving fisheries management to discovering new drugs to enabling early detection of tsunamis and hurricanes. At the request of the Joint Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology (JSOST), the National Research Council convened a committee to review the draft and final versions of the Ocean Research Priorities Plan and Implementation Strategy described in Charting the Course for Ocean Science in the United States: Research Priorities for the Next Decade, which represents the first coordinated national ocean research planning effort involving all federal agencies that support ocean science. The plan presents an ambitious vision for ocean research that will be of great benefit to the ocean sciences community and the nation. This report contains both sets of findings (i.e., the committee's review of the JSOST's draft plan [A Review of the Draft Ocean Research Priorities Plan: Charting the Course for Ocean Science in the United States] and the review of the final plan) and recommends that JSOST employ a variety of outreach mechanisms to continue to engage nonfederal partners in ocean research planning efforts, such as establishing external committees to provide scientific and technical advice and to review progress on implementation of the research plan.

Key Messages

  • The ORPP does not provide a straightforward explanation of the scope of the plan.
  • The document would be easier to interpret if it stated whether the plan incorporates existing research programs and, if so, identified the new initiatives associated with each of the themes.
  • The draft plan lacks a consistent approach across themes that (1) identifies the linkages among themes and the intersections of research priorities; (2) elucidates mechanisms to foster collaborative research in these areas; and (3) emphasizes the need for strong interagency cooperation and collaboration.
  • The plan gives minimal reference to other major efforts to identify national priorities for ocean science and technology such as the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, the Pew Oceans Commission, and the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative. The draft plan thus misses an opportunity to build on previous efforts and recognize the evolution of a consensus on the future direction of ocean science and technology to meet societal needs.