• Ocean technology conference to open in San Diego (San Diego Source)

    The Oceans ’13 conference will open Tuesday in San Diego, the first time in 10 years the ocean technology conference has chosen San Diego as its site.

    The last time it was held in San Diego, the conference drew its biggest turnout, a record that stands. More than 4,000 attendees and 200 exhibitors are expected, including several companies based in the county.

    Organized by the Marine Technology Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE, Oceans ’13 — which will run from Tuesday through Friday — will be at the Town & Country Resort Hotel in Mission Valley. Admission is free. The exhibits will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday

    The Maritime Alliance, a San Diego-based nonprofit promoting “blue tech” and “blue jobs,” will host four informational sessions, including one on marine spatial planning from 1:20 to 3 p.m. Tuesday. The session will be moderated by Greg Murphy, policy adviser to San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairman Greg Cox.

    Michael Jones, the president of Maritime Alliance, said the organization wants to avoid a “land rush” for space in the ocean off San Diego.

    “We really want to be smart about ocean development and that requires, really, a whole process to think about what’s the best type of use of different parts of the ocean,” Jones said.

    That process, he said, becomes more complex when taking into account the dynamics of ocean currents, or planning how long leases would last, who would buy operation rights when the leases expire, and what use rights a new owner would have.

    It’s not quite like land use planning, he said.

    “With land, you either have water, or you don’t have water,” Jones said. “You either have oil underneath it or minerals, or you don’t. With water, fish come and go, you have stuff moving and stuff grows. It’s an entirely different world.”

    The Maritime Alliance is working with a team at the University of California, San Diego to deliver by the end of the year a study similar to one in 2010 by the European Commission of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, which analyzed the economic effects of maritime spatial planning.

    A focus of Tuesday’s session, Jones said, will be how to move maritime spatial planning forward and which agencies would take the lead.

    “It’s one thing to convince people to support it,” Jones said. “I have yet to have somebody say, ‘Oh, that’s a bad idea.’ There are some people that are nervous — I’m nervous — that marine spatial planning becomes an added hurdle, as opposed to a way to truly rationalize and improve various uses in various areas.”

    Another session, “Lightning Talks: 50 Years of Marine Technology Innovation in the Pacific,” will be co-moderated by Ray Ashley, president of the Maritime Museum of San Diego, and Drew Stephens, ocean industry manager for the geographic information systems supplier Esri, founded as the Environmental Systems Research Institute.

    Wednesday’s sessions from The Maritime Alliance, from 8:20 to 10 a.m. and 10:30 to 11:50 a.m., will focus on the unknown nature of the blue economy and the importance of maritime technology clusters.

    About a month ago, The Maritime Alliance and the San Diego-based ERISS Corp. were selected by the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System to articulate the economic impact of the ocean observation sector in the United States. The nationally focused study will inventory providers of technology to IOOS and intermediate users of IOOS information that sell it to end users.

    The study will address the number of companies in each category, providers or intermediate users, the size of the companies, volume of activity and exports, and the number of employees. It will also include narratives on how IOOS has helped the companies’ operations and planning, as well as perceived potential for growth and investment.

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