[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 170 (Friday, August 31, 2012)]
[Pages 53224-53225]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-21552]



Geological Survey


Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard

AGENCY: Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.

ACTION: Notice of endorsement of coastal and marine ecological 
classification standard.


SUMMARY: The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) has endorsed the 
Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS) as the 
first-ever comprehensive federal data standard for classifying and 
describing coastal and marine ecosystems.
    CMECS provides a means of classifying ecological and habitat units 
using a common terminology. It provides a uniform protocol for 
identifying, characterizing and naming ecological units in support of 
monitoring, protection, and restoration of unique biotic assemblages, 
protected species, critical habitat, and important ecosystem 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Documentation for the standard is 
available for download at www.csc.noaa.gov/cmecs. A searchable online 
catalog of CMECS units and their descriptions is available at 

Services Center--Gulf Coast Region, Building 1100, Suite 232, Stennis 
Space Center, MS 39529, Email: nos.csc.cmecs_ig@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: CMECS offers a simple standard framework and 
common terminology for describing natural and human influenced 
ecosystems, from the upper tidal reaches of estuaries to the deepest 
portions of the ocean. The framework is organized into two settings, 
biogeographic and aquatic, and four components, water column, geoform, 
substrate, and biotic. Each describes a separate aspect of the 
environment and biota. Settings and components can be used in 
combination or independently to describe ecosystem features. The 
hierarchical arrangement of units in the settings and components allows 
users to apply CMECS to the scale and specificity that best suits their 
needs. Modifiers allow users to customize the classification to meet 
specific needs.
    CMECS is designed to meet the needs of many users, including 
coastal resource managers and planners, development interests, 
engineers, mappers, and researchers from government, industry, and 
academia. The system was also developed to address applications on 
scales ranging from local and regional to national and beyond.
    FGDC member agencies the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. 
Geological Survey, along with NatureServe, worked with over one hundred 
scientists and coastal managers to develop and test the standard. CMECS 
has been applied in projects in a variety of geographies. A rigorous 
four month public and peer review process led to consideration of and 
response to more than 800 individual comments from 31 individuals and 
    The use and application of CMECS will improve our knowledge of 
marine ecosystems and may bring to light other necessary additions and 
adjustments to the standard. Users are encouraged to provide 
suggestions about possible changes to CMECS, which will follow a 
regular peer review and revision cycle. Protocols and tools for this 
process are currently in development.
    Practical applications for CMECS include:

 Ecosystem inventory and mapping
 Coastal and marine spatial planning

[[Page 53225]]

 Marine Protected Area selection, evaluation, and assessment
 Resource management and monitoring
 Conservation status assessment
 Habitat modeling
    The FGDC coordinates the development of the National Spatial Data 
Infrastructure (NSDI), which encompasses the policies, standards, and 
procedures for organizations to cooperatively produce and share 
geospatial data. Federal agencies that make up the FGDC develop the 
NSDI in cooperation with organizations from State, local and tribal 
governments, the academic community, and the private sector. The 
authority for the FGDC is OMB Circular No. A-16, ``Revised on 
Coordination of Geographic Information and Related Spatial Data 
Activities (Revised August 19, 2002).'' Additional information on the 
FGDC and the NSDI is available at www.fgdc.gov.

    Dated: August 23, 2012.
Ivan DeLoatch,
Executive Director, Federal Geographic Data Committee.
[FR Doc. 2012-21552 Filed 8-30-12; 8:45 am]