More than 70 percent of the Earth's surface is covered by water.
The United States has more than 95,000 miles of coastline and more than 3.4 million square miles of ocean within its exclusive economic zone.
More than one-half of the U.S. population now live and work within 50 miles of the coastline.
U.S. residents ate an average of 15 pounds of fish and shellfish last year. Globally, seafood represents one-fifth of animal protein and 5 percent of the total protein in the human diet.
The United Nations has declared 1998 International Year of the Ocean in recognition of the importance of marine resources and its resources.
The Year of the Ocean provides governments, organizations and individuals an opportunity to raise public awareness of the role the ocean plays in our lives, and to initiate changes needed to sustain the marine resources on which we depend.
One of every six U.S. jobs is marine-related, and one-third of the nation's gross domestic product is produced in coastal areas through fishing, transportation, recreation and other industries dependent on healthy waters and marine habitats. More than one-half the U.S. population lives in coastal areas.
People enjoy the beauty of the ocean and the bounty of its waters but may not understand that their everyday actions -- boating, construction, improper waste disposal, ignoring protected areas, etc. -- can impact the ocean and its resources. Long-term planning for growth, development and use of coastal areas is key to the continued productivity of the ocean.
The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the federal ocean science and management agency dedicated to predicting and protecting our environment. Its mission -- to be the eyes and ears of science in our atmosphere, in the sky and under the sea -- is accomplished through five offices:
National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service
National Marine Fisheries Service
National Ocean Service
National Weather Service
Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research
NOAA carries out its mission to protect public safety and the nation's economic and environmental security through these offices and through programs created to promote safe navigation, build sustainable fisheries, recover protected species, and sustain healthy coasts.
Get educated and share your knowledge! Read, surf the web and experience the ocean directly.
Learning all you can is one of the "Top 10 Things You Can Do To Help Our Ocean." The other nine are:
2) Be a smart shopper. Know the source and quality of your seafood.
3) Conserve water. Be careful when washing your car or watering your lawn. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway and sidewalk.
4) Reduce household pollutants. Cut down and properly dispose of herbicides, pesticides and cleaning products.
5) Reduce waste. Dispose of trash properly. Where possible, recycle, re-use and compost.
6) Reduce automobile pollution. Use fuel efficient vehicles or carpool. Recycle motor oil and repair oil and air conditioning leaks.
7) Protect ocean wildlife. Don't dispose of fishing lines, nets or plastic items in or near the water.
8) Be considerate of sea life habitats. Don't feed sea birds, mammals and turtles or disturb their nesting grounds. Support marine protected areas.
9) Get involved. Take part in a beach cleanup or other ocean-oriented activities.
10) Care! Pass on your knowledge!
NOAA's Year of the Ocean Toll-free Information Line: 1-888-4YOTO98
Year of the Ocean Website: www.yoto.com
National Sea Grant College Program
The International Year of the Ocean Home Page
is a publication of the NOAA Home Page Design
and Construction Company.