No one denies that our oceans, estuaries, and coastal waters are becoming more polluted. The unknown factors are by what method and to what degree human health is being altered, and what risks to health are looming in future. To identify, measure, and offer possible avenues of mitigation for health hazards in coastal and oceanic regions, H.R.4818, Oceans and Human Health Act, was made law in 2005. SEC. 903. NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
OCEANS AND HUMAN HEALTH INITIATIVE.
(a) ESTABLISHMENT- As part of the interagency oceans and human health research program,
the Secretary of Commerce is authorized to establish an Oceans and Human Health Initiative to
coordinate and implement research and activities of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration related to the role of the oceans, the coasts, and the Great Lakes in human health.
In carrying out this section, the Secretary shall consult with other Federal agencies conducting
integrated oceans and human health research and research in related areas, including the National
Science Foundation. The Oceans and Human Health Initiative is authorized to provide support
(1) centralized program and research coordination;
(2) an advisory panel;
(3) one or more National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration national centers of
(4) research grants; and
(5) distinguished scholars and traineeships.
(b) ADVISORY PANEL- The Secretary is authorized to establish an oceans and human health
advisory panel to assist in the development and implementation of the Oceans and Human Health
Initiative. Membership of the advisory group shall provide for balanced representation of
individuals with multi-disciplinary expertise in the marine and biomedical sciences. The Federal
Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) shall not apply to the oceans and human health advisory
(c) NATIONAL CENTERS-
(1) The Secretary is authorized to identify and provide financial support through a
competitive process to develop, within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, for one or more centers of excellence that strengthen the capabilities of the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to carry out its programs and activities
related to the oceans' role in human health.
(2) The centers shall focus on areas related to agency missions, including use of marine
organisms as indicators for marine environmental health, ocean pollutants, marine toxins
and pathogens, harmful algal blooms, hypoxia, seafood testing, identification of potential
marine products, and biology and pathobiology of marine mammals, and on disciplines
including marine genomics, marine environmental microbiology, ecological chemistry and
(3) In selecting centers for funding, the Secretary will give priority to proposals with strong
interdisciplinary scientific merit that encourage educational opportunities and provide for
effective partnerships among the Administration, other Federal entities, State, academic,
non-profit research organizations, medical, and industry participants.
There are as you might imagine many other provisions and directives embedded into this law, but the partnership between NOAA and those facilities under section C directly involves the Gulf Coast Research Center as an established Center Of Excellence in all phases of marine science.