Evolution of the Coastal & Marine Specialty Group
by Norbert P. Psuity, Philip E. Steinberg, and Dawn J. Wright

Recognition of the importance of the global ocean came early to the Association of American Geographers (AAG). The first organized meeting of the Marine Geography Committee (MGC) of the AAG was held in 1970 in San Francisco, where it sponsored a session of six papers covering coastal geomorphology, fisheries, marine law, coastal research in Europe, the urban-meritime interface, and developing federal coastal interests and research funding. The first chair was Evelyn Pruitt. Although committee membership was limited to a handful of geographers who were appointed by the AAG, participation in the MGC-sponsored sessions at the annual meetings of the AAG gradually increased, and by 1978 a marine geography directory listed eight-four persons. When specialty groups were created by the AAG in 1979, the MGC structure was dissolved and the board membership was reconstituted as the Marine Geography Specialty Group, which in 1981 was re-christened the Coastal & Marine Specialty Group (COMA). In comparison to the first meeting in 1970, at the 1999 Annual Meeting of the AAG in Honolulu COMA (with a membership of 180) sponsored five special sessions, featuring twenty-four paper presentations.

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