Ocean Satellite Accounts--Measuring Ocean Value

You've heard of "Ocean Satellite Accounts," right?  No?  Well, that could be because they do not exist--yet.   Market sectors such as Healthcare, Energy and Agriculture have special "satellite accounts" monitored by the US Bureau of Economics Analysis, which provide important details of those industrial sectors to more accurately estimate their values. There is no such thing for the oceans although, "the Ocean Economy in 2013 comprised about 2.2% of both U.S. GDP and employment. To put this in perspective, the ocean economy generated a larger share of the U.S. economy than other major natural resource industries,  including farming, food products, oil and gas extraction, and forest products," states the National Ocean Economics Program's "State of the U.S. Ocean and Coastal Economies, 2016 Update

A new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Center for the Blue Economy and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute aims to jointly develop a proposal to assist the US government in the creation of an "Ocean Satellite Account" to be maintained by the Bureau of Economic Analysis in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).   

This MOU is thanks in large part to the foresight of Dr. Judith Kildow, National Ocean Economics Program Director at the Center for the Blue Economy.  She was an invited speaker at a Bicameral Ocean Caucus panel on Capitol Hill on March 1, 2016. Monterey’s Congressional Representative Sam Farr, founder of the House Ocean Caucus, organized the event together with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island, founder of the Senate Ocean Caucus. Each Ocean Caucus includes House and Senate members from both parties who champion the oceans and have an interest in preserving its health.  Others on the panel were from NOAA’s Office of the Chief Economist, Department of Interior’s Director of Strategic Natural Resources, and the Associate Director of Mississippi’s Enterprise for Marine Technology.

The purpose of Dr. Kildow’s presentation was to explain the importance of measuring the ocean and coastal economies, and how the creation of a special US Ocean Satellite Account would allow a much better representation of the ocean and coastal economies from what we are currently able to measure. The National Ocean Economics Program (NOEP) currently tracks the US ocean economy from a limited set of accounts that was never meant to estimate the ocean sector. Hence, NOEP is only able to measure a small portion of the industries that rely on the oceans.

NOAA is seeking funding from Congress for the project, which may take several years.

Learn More

How is the Ocean Economy currently measured?
See the National Ocean Economics Program's "State of the U.S. Ocean and Coastal Economies, 2016 Update.Registration is required, but report is free of charge.  

Header photo courtesy of Public Domain Images.


June, 2016:  The U.S. Space, Science and Technology Committee voted in June to allocate 1.5 million to NOAA’s National Ocean Service to develop a plan for Ocean Satellite Accounts (a new allocation).  Funding victory!