Regional Associations and IOOS

The coastal component of the United States  Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) is divided operationally into eleven Regional Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (RCOOSs), each administered by a Regional Association (RA) of data users and data suppliers. A RA is a legal entity responsible for the development, operation and updating of the regional observing system. A RA consists of representatives of the user groups, who specify the data requirements and products, and the data suppliers responsible for the design, implementation, operation and improvement of the regional system. In many cases, the same groups will act both as data suppliers and users. The RAs are established to develop products and services adequate to the particular needs of each region and to design, implement and operate coastal observing systems that satisfy these needs.

Regional Associations (RAs) design, operate and improve regional coastal ocean observing systems (RCOOSs). 

  • represent the interests of those that use, depend on, study and manage coastal environments and their resources in a region
  • are legal entities that provide for a fiscal agent with final responsibility for acceptance and expenditure of funds according to the rules of grantors of the funds, insurability, and the ability to enter into enforceable contracts;
  • are partnerships or consortia of data providers and users from state and federal agencies, private industry, non-governmental institutions and academia;
  • provide the means by which these bodies and the public at large benefit from and contribute to the development and sustained operation of an integrated ocean observing system for the open ocean and the nation's estuaries, Great Lakes, and Exclusive Economic Zone;
  • ensure continued and routine flow of data and information and the evolution of RCOOSs that adapt to the needs of the user groups and the timely incorporation of new technologies and understanding based on these needs; and
  • promote research and development required to improve the capacity of the IOOS to achieve regional objectives for each of the system's seven societal goals.


Regional Coastal Ocean Observing Systems are designed, implemented, operated and improved by RAs to provide data, information and products on marine and estuarine systems deemed necessary to the users in a common manner and according to sound scientific practice. Regional Associations are further incorporated in with offices in Washington DC. The goal of the IOOS Association is to represent the associations at the federal level and to coordinate the development of RCOOSs following the IOOS design principles.

The Regional Associations covered by IOOS: