- Associated Press - Saturday, July 18, 2015

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - Residents in the Cape Canaveral area fear a decision by the federal government to remove two buoys will hurt hurricane forecasting and fishing reports.

Florida Today (https://on.flatoday.com/1I3vUCG ) reported Saturday that the buoys, stationed about 120 nautical miles east of Cape Canaveral in the Atlantic Ocean, will be taken offline this spring.

The buoys are part of NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center and provide information including wind direction, wind speed, air and water temperature, wave heights and barometric pressure.

The buoys had been had been funded by both NASA and the Air Force and were used to help recover booster rockets from the space shuttle.

Government officials say the buoy program is a victim of shuttle-related funding cuts.

“Unfortunately it’s just a casualty of the end of the shuttle program,” said George Diller, a NASA spokesman.

Scientists say the buoys transmit crucial data.

Dr. George Maul, a professor of oceanography at Florida Tech, said tropical storms will be harder to track without the two buoys.

“We have very few data points on the east coast of Florida,” he said.

Maul is among a group of scientists asking NOAA to provide the approximately $60,000 annual budget for buoy project to continue after the NASA funds are gone.

Fishermen are also fighting the removal of the two buoys.

“There’s a lot of us that use that to check on local sea conditions and things of that nature,” said Mike Rigby, who fishes for red snapper and grouper and is also a boat driver with the Canaveral Pilots Association. “It’s a good indicator to see what the offshore forecast is and the seas and so forth and to lose that, it would be the loss of another tool to keep tabs on the marine forecast here. People have relied on that for many, many years.”

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Information from: Florida Today (Melbourne, Fla.), https://www.floridatoday.com

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