New maritime technology legislation to help with marine research
MONTEREY — The U.S. House of Representatives this week unanimously passed maritime legislation that aims to advance the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s ability to use drone technology to support at-sea research and operations.
Dubbed the Commercial Engagement through Ocean Technology Act (CENOTE), the legislation that was co-authored by Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Carmel Valley, will advance NOAA’s use of unmanned maritime systems, encourage private sector research and development and ensure that maritime data is readily available and reliable.
While NOAA currently uses such technology to support an array of research and observation, there are more demands on the scientific agency for maritime information than it can meet.
“Advancing unmanned systems has widespread civil, commercial, academic, and national security benefits,” said Panetta. “This legislation will accelerate the deployment of unmanned maritime technologies by coordinating NOAA partnership opportunities, including with institutions such as the Naval Postgraduate School.” Panetta also noted that the act supports coastal communities, fisheries, environmental science, disaster mitigation, and national defense.
Mike Clancy, the city of Monterey’s Military Affairs Coordinator, noted how the legislation will affect the Monterey Bay area directly with the presence here of so many oceanic research-oriented entities. They include the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, the Naval Postgraduate School, which has its own oceanography department, and the Fleet Numerological Meteorological and Oceanography Center.
“So there’s a lot of marine activity here – both research and operations – and the CENOTE legislation that Panetta sponsored will enhance the ability of all these organizations to do their jobs,” said Clancy.
The bill was introduced in March by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-MS, and the Senate passed it with an amendment by unanimous consent on Aug. 23.
Panetta, along with Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-MS, co-authored and introduced the House version.
Under the Commercial Engagement through Ocean Technology Act, NOAA is directed to coordinate with the private and academic sectors and the Navy on evaluation of the at-sea data collection of unmanned maritime system technology (drones). NOAA officials are then to integrate the technology into its observation programs. That data that’s collected using surface and subsurface tools is used for sea floor mapping, oceanographic, meteorological, acoustic and visual use.
“The legislation is designed to enhance sharing of data between Navy and NOAA and fostering a more collaborative engagement between government and private industry,” said Clancy. “It’s going to lead to data sharing and technology sharing both within government and between government and private industries and that will advance our understanding of the ocean.”