GOMA News


From Muck to Marshes

December 20, 2013

Sand is gold, and it’s becoming harder and harder to find for nourishing sandy beaches, rebuilding important fish habitat, restoring barrier islands and coastal marshes.  But, sand is not the whole story. Rebuilding marshes requires finer grained materials, such as mud and clays, collectively known as “muck”.  Muck, while in great supply, is more difficult to work with than sand. 

The Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) Habitat Conservation and Restoration Team (HCRT) members, restoration professionals from around the Gulf of Mexico, need all the restoration projects they can get to use the excess dredged muck. Muck is the primary resource needed to complete restoration projects that are essential for storm protection and robust fisheries.  The team recognized that industries are dredging waterways, marinas and ports to maintain transportation routes. Much of the dredged material, or sediment, is being placed in upland disposal areas or discarded offshore and lost from our estuary systems.  The HCRT decided to find a way to use more of these dredged materials for restoration.  They created a task in the GOMA Action Plan, commitment to work together across all five states to develop a technical framework the Gulf Regional Sediment Management Master Plan (GRSMMP).  This plan envisions sediment management on a regional scale, unencumbered by agency, state or national boundaries. The team is forging new partnerships, sharing technical expertise, and developing emerging tools to facilitate increased beneficial use of all suitable dredged material. The GRSMMP technical framework was published in the Journal of Coastal Research in 2012.

Round Island Mississippi is a perfect example of how this works.  The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources is working with VT Halter Marine and the Port of Pascagoula in a public-private partnership to restore part of Round Island, an island that has almost completely eroded away over the course of the last 200 years.  VT Halter Marine is expanding, and the material they are dredging will be deposited near Round Island. The Department of Marine Resources project manager, George Ramseur, explains they will plant the restored marsh area on the interior portion of the new island, and stabilize the top of the surrounding sand dike with trees and shrubs.  No agency funds were spent on this project, and Mississippi will gain back about 70 acres of new land.

Ports around the Gulf dredge regularly to keep waterways clear of obstruction for transporting goods. Partnering with ports and industry is essential. In mid-October 2013, the Gulf Ports Association of the Americas held their annual 4-day convention in Biloxi.  Representatives from GOMA and the HCRT spoke to the convention about this innovative plan developed to ensure valuable sand and muck resources are used for restoration and protection along the Gulf Coast.  The participants at the Gulf Ports Association of the Americas meeting were very interested to hear about the new GRSMMP technical report and how the material they are digging up can be used to rebuild our coast.



Sempier Takes on New Role at the Alliance

December 13, 2013

The Gulf of Mexico Alliance has hired Tracie Sempier to serve as its regional program manager. The position is a shared position between the Gulf of Mexico Alliance and the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium’s (MASGC) Coastal Storms Program.

Sempier has been working as the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Storms Program outreach coordinator at MASGC since 2008. She has worked extensively with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance as part of its Coastal Community Resilience Priority Issue Team.

“This partnership makes sense because Tracie has been a very active part of our priority team on hazard resilience,” said Gulf of Mexico Alliance Executive Director Laura Bowie. “She will be able to bring her unique, hands-on outreach approach to other functions of the Alliance.”

Sempier continues to serve part-time as the Coastal Storms Program outreach coordinator for Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant.

“This shared position is mutually beneficial for Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance,” said LaDon Swann, director of Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant. “It allows an opportunity for the Gulf of Mexico Alliance to benefit from Sea Grant research while helping to deliver Sea Grant work to a broader group of people.”

As regional program manager, Sempier provides support to the priority issue teams, which are teams of professionals from across the Gulf who work on specific issues including water quality, habitat conservation and restoration, ecosystems integration and assessment, nutrients and nutrient impacts, coastal community resilience, and environmental education and outreach. She serves as a co-leader on a resilience benchmarking project that focus on ports, harbors and the oil and gas industry.

Sempier will continue to work out of the Sea Grant office in Ocean Springs at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Lab half of the time, and she will be based at the Gulf of Mexico Alliance office on Robinson Street in Ocean Springs the other half of the time.

Sempier can be reached at the Gulf Coast Research Lab at tracie.sempier@usm.edu or 228-818-8829 or at the Gulf of Mexico Alliance office at Tracie.Sempier@gomxa.org or 228-215-1247.



HCRT Team Holds Sea Level Rise and Sediment Management Workshops in Mexico

October 25, 2013

Under an award from the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program, the Gulf of Mexico Foundation sponsored the International Integration Workshop on Sea-Level Rise in Merida, Yucatan from October 21 - 23, 2013.  The International Integration project was conceived to support the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Habitat Conservation and Restoration Team's (HCRT) Expanded Partnerships action item.  The project was implemented to develop a collaborative, binational communication network to address important issues affecting coastal habitat and communities in the Gulf of Mexico.  Two technical subjects were prioritized in the first International Integration workshop, held in November of 2011, and workshops focused on those two areas were planned to elicit specific needs, capacities, and opportunities for collaboration in each arena.

 

The Foundation worked with the HCRT Steering Committee, members of the HCRT Technology Development Subcommittee, and partners from both sides of the border to develop the workshop agenda and a diverse but targeted participant list.  CINVESTAV, 

a Mexican research institute, served as the local host partner, contributing invaluable expertise and logistical support.  HCRT State Lead Just Cebrian, representing Alabama, and Technology Development Subcommittee member Kristin Demarco, along with GMF's Mike Smith, HCRT Coordinator, represented the HCRT.  Panelists from Mexico and the US included researchers, restoration practitioners, government officials, modelers, and civil protection experts to promote a diversity of  viewpoints.  A sequence of interactive panels on SLR impacts,  restoration in the face of SLR, protection, measurement/adaptation, and SLR assessment techniques on Day 1 set the tone for a day-long applied training session utilizing the Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM).  On the final day, participants identified potential projects for binational collaboration and began discussion of the next workshop which will focus on Regional Sediment Management (RSM).

 

The RSM workshop is currently expected to occur in Spring 2014 and would be held in Mexico City wiht UNIDO's Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem Project hosting. Contact Mike Smith, Gulf of Mexico Foundation and HCRT Coordinator, for more information at mike@gulfmex.org.


Nutrient Reduction Strategies a Top Priority at the Hypoxia Task Force Fall 2013 Meeting

October 21, 2013

The Hypoxia Task Force (HTF) held its Fall 2013 meeting in Minneapolis on September 23 - 25, 2013.  Development and implementation of nutrient reduction strategies for all 12 HTF states continues to be a top priority.  Three states have completed the development phase and are implementing their strategies.  Another three states have released draft strategies for public review and comment Most of the other HTF states expect to complete draft strategies by the end of this calendar year.

Another HTF priority is reaching out to partners with organizations with similar goals.  Although a number of potential partner organizations were on the agenda, the first group the HTF contacted is the Land Grant Universities, with a goal of strengthening cooperation.  As a first step, representatives of both groups are working to finalize a Memorandum of Agreement aimed at better coordination among the MS River Basin Land Grants themselves and each HTF state.

At the Fall 2013 meeting, there were also presentations from private foundations that are providing significant funding to control nutrient pollution in the Basin, such as the McKnight Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.  They are interested in promoting innovation,  and in exploring opportunities to incentivize risk-reducing behavior in the agricultural community.  The HTF plans to continue the conversation with the foundations, and  reach out to other groups with similar goals.

For more information about the HTF, go to:   http://water.epa.gov/type/watersheds/named/msbasin/index.cfm.

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USFWS Releases a Vision for a Healthy Gulf of Mexico Watershed

October 18, 2013

The USFWS recently released their Vision for a Healthy Gulf of Mexico Watershed identifying eight conservation strategies and 16 focal areas.  The conservation actions in theVision document are voluntary and are intended to be implemented with existing programs and partnerships.  To download a copy of a summary of the full document, please go here: http://www.fws.gov/gulfrestoration/vision.html.

Linda Walker, DOI Senior Advisory for Restoration and GOMA AMT member, noted, “USFWS is seeking input from partners and regional stakeholders to develop a follow-up document titled Blueprint for a Healthy Gulf of Mexico Watershed which will offer details and specific recommendations to accomplish high priority conservation objectives.”

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HABs Primer Now Available!

October 8, 2013

Members of the Water Quality team have been hard at work developing tools to educate the public about Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs).  Recently released, the HABs Primer details what HABs are, what causes them, and other factors concerning the "how's, why's and where's" related to HABs in the Gulf.  The Primer was a collaborative effort many Alliance partners, including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, NOAA National Coastal Data Development Center, Mote Marine Laboratory, and the Gulf of Mexico Coastal and Ocean Observing System Regional Association. 

The Alliance is seeking funds to print this excellent outreach tool.  If you are interested, please let us know:  Laura.Bowie@gomxa.org or SHWolfe@fio.usf.edu.    




EPA GMPO Announces RFIP

September 30, 2013

The EPA Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced a Request for Initial Proposals (RFIP) as a part of a new cooperative agreement solicitation process.

Initial proposals are due to EPA through grants.gov by 4:00 pm central on November 12, 2013.  EPA will notify finalists to prepare full proposals by December 9, 2013 and full proposals will be due by 4:00 pm central on January 10, 2014.

The full announcement can be found at the following links: EPA GMPO  or  grants.gov

View the PDF... (295 KB)


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Principles of Ecological Restoration Workshops

September 18, 2013

Registration is now open for two "Principles of Ecological Restoraiton" workshops: November 6-8 in Pensacola, FL or November 12-14 in Moss Point, MS.  Both workshops will be taught by Dr. Andre Clewell, founding member and past president of the Society for Ecological Restoration, former faculty at Florida State University, and owner of A.F. Clewell, Inc.  To register, go to www.gulfalliancetraining.org.  Space is limited - only 35 seats left!

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Millions of Chemical Analyses from Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Now Available

September 12, 2013

NOAA has announced the release of a comprehensive, quality controlled dataset that give access to millions of chemical analyses and other data on the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  The dataset, collected to support oil removal activities and assess the  presence of dispersants, wraps up a three year process that began with the gathering of water samples and measurements by ships in the Gulf of Mexico during and after the oil release in 2010. 

NOAA was one of the principal agencies  responding to the Macondo well explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, and is the  official ocean data archivist for the federal government. While earlier  versions of the data were made available during and shortly after the response,  it took three years for NOAA employees and contractors to painstakingly catalog  each piece of data into this final form.

The chemical analyses dataset can be accessed at http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/deepwaterhorizon/specialcollections.html.   A companion dataset that includes ocean temperature, salinity, currents and other properties can be accessed at http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/deepwaterhorizon/insitu.html

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Ecosystems Team Announces Release of GecoServ2

September 11, 2013

The ecosystem provides important benefits to sustain human health and well-being. However, too often these benefits are not considered in the decision making process because their value (monetary and non-monetary) is not readily available. For this reason, the Harte Research Institute's Socio-Economics Group created GecoServ, Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Service Valuation Database. GecoServ is an inventory of ecosystem services (ES) valuation studies relevant to the Gulf of Mexico region. The two main goals of the GecoServ database are to: (1) allow for the distribution and sharing of information about ES valuation studies relevant to Gulf of Mexico habitats and, (2) to identify current gaps in the ES literature.  Access to GecoServ 2 and all of its new features can be found at: www.gecoserv.org.  [Disclaimer: Availability for mobile devices other than iPads coming soon.]

 

Features of the database include "REFERENCES" tab to provide users the bibliographic information for each study in the database; a "DEFINITIONS" tab to provide explanations for concepts mentioned in the website; and an "ES VISUALIZED" tab to provide users with a visual representation of each ES. This is especially useful for outreach and educational opportunities.

 

Now the newest version of GecoServ is available. GOMA's Ecosystem Integration and Assessment Priority Issue Team is proud to announce the release of GecoServ 2. This new version has many exciting features while maintaining its user friendliness. New components include: (1) 1174 valuation estimates, (2) additional habitats, (3) ecosystem services visualized, and (4) easier navigation.

 

"We are excited about the new features of GecoServ 2, especially the additional habitats and studies," said Team Coordinator Cristina Carollo. "We believe this will pave the way for more informed decision making that will take into account not only the biophysical (ecosystem structure and function) but also the socio-economic (ecosystem services and their values) component."

 

 

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RESTORE Council Adopts Comprehensive Plan

August 28, 2013

On Wednesday, August 28, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council held a public meeting and officially adopted the Initial Comprehensive Plan that will guide regional restoration for the foreseeable future. The Plan was broadly circulated in draft form throughout most of the summer, receiving over 41,000 comments from the public meetings as well as written input. 

Governor Bobby Jindal opened the meeting and noted the importance of building on existing efforts in a coordinated and intentional way. "Ecosystem restoration and resilience is important and must be coordinated. We must focus on planning and management as well as projects," Governor Jindal said.

After other Council representatives echoed the need for coordination,  Secretary of Commerce and Council Chair Penny Pritzker noted that the Council's goal is to begin selecting and funding projects within the next 12 months. 

Other presentations at the Council meeting included an update on NRDA by NRDA Trustee Council Chair Mimi Drew of Florida; an update on the NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program by Acting Director Russ Beard; and an update on the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund by Vice President Tom Kelsch. Russ Beard of NOAA's RESTORE Act Science Program noted, "The goal at the end of all this is a robust Gulf economy and a sustainable Gulf ecosystem."

To download a copy of the Initial Comprehensive Plan and other related documents, go to www.restorethegulf.gov.


 

On Wednesday, August 28, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council held a public meeting and officially adopted the Initial Comprehensive Plan that will guide regional restoration for the foreseeable future. The Plan was broadly circulated in draft form throughout most of the summer, receiving over 41,000 comments from the public meetings as well as written input. 

Governor Bobby Jindal opened the meeting and noted the importance of building on existing efforts in a coordinated and intentional way. "Ecosystem restoration and resilience is important and must be coordinated. We must focus on planning and management as well as projects," Governor Jindal said.

After other Council representatives echoed the need for coordination,  Secretary of Commerce and Council Chair Penny Pritzker noted that the Council's goal is to begin selecting and funding projects within the next 12 months. 

On Wednesday, August 28, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council held a public meeting and officially adopted the Initial Comprehensive Plan that will guide regional restoration for the foreseeable future. The Plan was broadly circulated in draft form throughout most of the summer, receiving over 41,000 comments from the public meetings as well as written input.

Governor Bobby Jindal opened the meeting and noted the importance of building on existing efforts in a coordinated and intentional way. "Ecosystem restoration and resilience is important and must be coordinated. We must focus on planning and management as well as projects," Governor Jindal said.

After other Council representatives echoed the need for coordination, Secretary of Commerce and Council Chair Penny Pritzker noted that the Council's goal is to begin selecting and funding projects within the next 12 months.


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NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program Announces Webinars

August 13, 2013

The NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program is hosting five virtual engagement sessions where users can ask questions and gather input on research and observing needs in the Gulf of Mexico.  Attendance is limited to 25 people per webinar.  If interested, please register for one of the following:

Friday, August 16, 11 AM Eastern, 10 AM Central (click here to register)

Monday, August 19, 10 AM Eastern, 9 AM Central (click here to register)

Monday, August 19, 2 PM Eastern, 1 PM Central (click here to register)

Tuesday, August 27, 12 PM Eastern, 11 AM Central (click here to register)

Wednesday, August 28, 12 PM Eastern, 11 AM Central (click here to register

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Restoration Council Meeting: Wednesday, Aug 28

August 9, 2013

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council will meet on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 1:00 pm to vote on the Initial Comprehensive Plan:  Restoring the Gulf Coast's Ecosystem and Economy.  The meeting will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel located at 601 Loyola Avenue in New Orleans, LA and the public is invited to attend.  Chair of the Council, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, will preside over the meeting and Governor Bobby Jindal will be in attendance as a Council member and host of the meeting. 

 

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Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone Smaller than Expected

July 30, 2013

NOAA-supported scientists found a large Gulf of Mexico oxygen-free or hypoxic “dead” zone, but not as large as had been predicted. Measuring 5,840 square miles, an area the size of Connecticut, the 2013 Gulf dead zone indicates nutrients from the Mississippi River watershed are continuing to affect the nation’s commercial and recreational marine resources in the Gulf. (Photo Credit:  Rabalais, LUMCON)

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Florida Homeowner Handbook

July 12, 2013

With Hurricane season upon us and now is the time for homeowners to make the necessary preparations to protect their homes and loved ones.  The new Florida Homeowner's Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards provides actions that can be taken to reduce vulnerability to these threats.  When it comes to natural disasters, Florida - with hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes, wildfires and flooding - certainly has more than its share. That's a good reason for Floridians to spend time planning for such emergencies.  The Handbook explains the forces of nature that act on structures during storms, including the dangers associated with high winds, heavy rain, storm surge and even wildfires.  The Handbook lays out relatively easy things homeowners can do to minimize or negate the effect of natural disasters.    

The Handbook provides tips specific to Florida residents.  These include preparing evacuation plans and kits, construction practices, retrofitting, shutter styles, insurance information and emergency contact numbers. The Handbook has suggestions people may not think about such as  keeping spare cash handy in case ATMs aren't working, having a hardwire telephone in case cellular service goes out, and specific ways to shore up your windows, doors and garage doors. The Handbook doesn't leave anything out, reminding homeowners to have a plan for pets, prescriptions, and important documents such as birth records, insurance policies, and descriptions and photos of home valuables.

 

The Gulf of Mexico Alliance Coastal Community Resilience Team produced the Handbook with the help of state, regional, national and private partners. Dr. Mike Spranger, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences professor in family, youth and community sciences, worked with colleagues in Florida to adapt the Handbook for Floridians.  A Tallahassee-based natural resource consultant, Lampl-Herbert Consultants, managed the project on behalf of the Alliance.

The goal of the project is to help build a more resilient coast by getting important information into the hands of homeowners. It is free and available in PDF format online at http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/disaster_prep/ and on the StormSmart Coasts Florida page at http://fl.stormsmart.org/florida-homeowners-handbook/. For handbooks in other Gulf States, go to www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org.

 



Alliance Showcases Partnerships and Accomplishments at Second Day of All Hands Meeting

June 27, 2013

The 8th Gulf of Mexico Alliance All Hands Meeting continued for a second day at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay. The annual three-day meeting is an opportunity for all organization partners to meet and discuss critical environmental issues facing the Gulf of Mexico.  The meeting of the Alliance began on Tuesday and continues through Thursday, June 27 with a theme of Collaboration is the Key to Successful Gulf Restoration.  

Wednesday’s focus was the Gulf of Mexico Alliance’s accomplishments and those of their partners.  There were presentations from a variety of different groups including the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, about their activities in the Gulf region.  All presentations emphasized the ability of the Alliance to bring partners together to work collaboratively.

“We have been bringing people together to work on Gulf issues for almost ten years, from post-hurricane reconstruction through oil spill restoration,”   said Jerome Zeringue, Chair of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Management Team and Director of the Louisiana Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration.   “The Gulf doesn’t stop at the state line, and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance has helped establish strong communication among all the states and with our international neighbors about Gulf-wide issues.”

The two-day plenary meeting will be followed on Thursday by concurrent sessions on the Gulf of Mexico Alliance’s Priority Issues.  These working sessions will build on discussions from the previous days and take advantage of its broad membership to further integrate Gulf of Mexico Alliance’s goals and actions with regional priorities.

The 2013 All Hands meeting concludes June 27, 2013 at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay. For the Priority Issue Teams’ Thursday schedule: www.gulfofmexicoallianc.org.



First Day of All Hands Meeting Focuses on Restoration

June 26, 2013

The Gulf of Mexico Alliance is focusing on Gulf restoration at its 8th Annual All Hands Meeting being held in Tampa this week at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay. The gathering focuses on shared ecological issues of the five U.S. Gulf States, and is an opportunity for all organization partners to meet and discuss critical environmental issues facing the Gulf of Mexico.  The meeting of the Alliance began today and continues through Thursday, June 27 with a theme of Collaboration is the Key to Successful Gulf Restoration.  

Restoring the Gulf Coast’s ecosystem and economy was at the forefront of presentations and discussions on the first day of the meeting. The RESTORE Act, passed by Congress in 2012, will dedicate 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines from the BP oil spill to the five Gulf States to restore coastal environments and economies. Tuesday’s Gulf of Mexico Alliance meeting included an “Update on the RESTORE Council” from both a federal and state perspective.  Panelists included the newly appointed Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, Justin Ehrenwerth, along with representatives from the five state environmental agencies and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“As Gulf Restoration efforts go forward, we all have to work together,” Alliance Director Laura Bowie said. “As the Gulf’s regional ocean partnership, Gulf of Mexico Alliance has been committed to working with the Gulf States and with all levels of government, business, academia, and not-for-profits to restore the Gulf since 2004.  The RESTORE Act provides a once in a lifetime opportunity that we should not squander.”

The 2013 Gulf of Mexico Alliance All Hands meeting continues through June 27, 2012 at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay and is open to the public. A full schedule is available at www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org.



GOMA Invites Public to Learn About Partnerships and Progress in Gulf Restoration

June 12, 2013

The Gulf of Mexico Alliance will hold its 8th Annual Meeting in Tampa, FL on June 25-27,  2013. The overall theme for the three-day meeting is "Collaboration is the Key to Successful Gulf Restoration." The meeting will focus on how the Alliance is working to expand and maintain partnerships to enhance the ecological and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico. The meeting will be held at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay and is open to the public. Links to registration and a full schedule of events are available at www.GulfofMexicoAlliance.org.

As Gulf restoration is a key topic at the meeting, there will be an update on the RESTORE Comprehensive Plan and how Alliance partners are addressing restoration opportunities. The week will begin with a public meeting Monday evening, June 24, 2013, from 4:00 until 6:00 p.m. on the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Science, Observation, Monitoring and Technology Program (RESTORE Act Science Program).

The following two days of the meeting will provide information and updates on several topics of interest including a presentation on conservation economics by Scott Burns of the Walton Family Foundation. Moderated sessions will explore the state of science in the Gulf, Gulf restoration/conservation needs, and the incorporation of new networks into the Alliance. Keynote speakers include the newly appointed Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency as well as state environmental agencies. Each agency will give updates on current priorities.

The two-day plenary meeting will be followed on Thursday by concurrent sessions on the Alliance's Priority Issues: water quality, nutrient impacts, ecosystem integration and assessment, habitat conservation and restoration, coastal community resilience, and environmental education. These working sessions will engage participants in the Alliance's goals and actions at the community level and leaders from around the Gulf Coast will share knowledge and expertise. The Alliance plans to build on discussions from the previous days and take advantage of broad membership to further integrate with regional priorities. 
 



Restoration Council Seeks Public Input to Draft Initial Comprehensive Plan

May 23, 2013

Today, the Restoration Council released the draft Initial Comprehensive Plan and an accompanying Environmental Assessment.  Both of the documents can be found here www.RestoreTheGulf.gov.  

Public engagement is an important part of the process, so meetings are scheduled in each Gulf state to discuss the Plan:
June 3 - Pensacola, FL
June 5 - Spanish Fort, AL
June 10 - Galveston, TX
June 11 - Biloxi, MS
June 12 - Belle Chasse, LA
June 17 - St. Petersburg, FL

Public comments are being accepted until July 8, 2013.



Gulf Takes Aim at Building Better Marinas

May 20, 2013

The Clean & Resilient Marina Guidebook is now available as a free download from the Gulf of Mexico Alliance website.The Clean & Resilient Marina Guidebook provides marina owners with useful information on tools and recommended best practices at marinas. Released by the Alliance's Coastal Community Resilience Priority Issue Team, the guidebook can be found on the Gulf of Mexico Alliance's website at  www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org/issues/resilience.php

The Alliance's Clean & Resilient Marina Guidebook is a three-document set with an accompanying policy guide and educational brochure. The Guidebook addresses issues such as marina design and siting, emergency preparedness, evacuation procedures, storm water management and erosion control in order to help protect Gulf waters and control pollution. Producing the Clean & Resilient Marina Guidebook was a two-year effort of Alliance, in partnership with numerous marine industry officials and watercraft owners. The guidebook builds on existing clean marina certification programs in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

Recommendations outlined in the guidebook promote resilient and environmentally responsible marina operations and practices to protect our inshore, nearshore and offshore waters.


"With more than 1,350 miles of coastline, 5,000 miles of inland and coastal rivers, 700 freshwater springs, countless lakes and a total economic impact of more than $20 billion, Floridians and the state's working waterfronts depend on clean water more than any other natural resource," said Brenda Leonard, Clean Marina Program Director for the State of Florida. 

 

"The Florida Clean Marina Program is proud to offer its full support to the Gulf of Mexico Alliance's Clean and Resilient Marina effort."  


"I am excited over the prospect of offering participants in Louisiana's Clean Marina Program the opportunity to be better prepared for, and to recover more rapidly from, storm events and other hazards with the GOMA Clean and Resilient Marina Program," said Jon Truxillo, Coastal Resource Scientist with Louisiana's Office of Coastal Management. "This program builds on the clean marina foundation, with strategies and resources to help better protect lives and property."
 

 



GoMRI Announces Call for Session Proposals for 2014 Conference

May 17, 2013

The 2014 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference is soliciting proposals from the community for sessions to address the Conference Themes and Integrative Topics. For guidelines and submission instructions, please see the attached document or visit http://gulfofmexicoconference.org/program/scientific-sessions/.

The deadline for submissions is June 30, 2013.


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Louisiana Handbook Shows Homeowners How to Prepare for Hazards

May 1, 2013

With hurricane season only a few weeks away, now is the time homeowners should start making necessary preparations to protect their homes and loved ones. Through the new Louisiana Homeowners Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards, residents of Louisiana have a useful resource at their fingertips as they begin readying their families for natural disasters.

The handbook explains the forces of nature that act on structures during storms, including the dangers associated with high winds, heavy rain and storm surge. It further lays out ways to gird a home against these forces to minimize or negate their effects, as well as information on how to reduce the human toll exacted by dangerous storms.

“There are tips and information specific to Louisiana residents for preparing evacuation plans and kits, construction practices, retrofitting, shutter styles, insurance information and emergency contact numbers. Basically everything a homeowner needs to know in coastal Louisiana to be best prepared for coastal hazards,” said Melissa Daigle, resiliency specialist with Louisiana Sea Grant.

The handbook is available in PDF format at www.lsu.edu/sglegal/pubs/handbook.htm as a free download. Free hard copies will be available at various locations throughout coastal parishes, or the book can be ordered for $5 – to cover postage and handling – by emailing Jessica Schexnayder at jsche15@lsu.edu.

Louisiana Sea Grant produced the handbook with the help of other state, regional and national organizations. The handbook was funded through a program of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) which aims to see each Gulf state prepare its own guidelines for coastal residents in their state. With recent storms – including Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, Hurricane Gustav in 2008, and the Mississippi River flooding in 2011 – being among the worst in memory, preparing beforehand for a natural hazard has become even more important for residents of vulnerable areas.

“Mississippi and Alabama have already completed the books. Louisiana is the third state of the five Gulf coast states to complete a handbook,” said Daigle. “The goal of the project is to help build a more resilient coast by getting important information into the hands of homeowners along Louisiana’s coast.”

Since its establishment in 1968, Louisiana Sea Grant has worked to promote stewardship of the state’s coastal resources through a combination of research, education and outreach programs critical to the cultural, economic and environmental health of Louisiana’s coastal zone. Louisiana Sea Grant, based at LSU, is part of the National Sea Grant College Program, a network of 33 university-based programs in each of the U.S. coastal and Great Lakes states and Puerto Rico.

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New Tool to Help Ensure Healthy Beaches and Seafood

March 27, 2013

Residents along the Gulf of Mexico have been concerned about the quality of their swimming and fishing waters for years. The Gulf of Mexico Alliance has taken a step closer to improving the methods used in water quality testing. A new Molecular Marker Registry has been developed that is based on genetic information from microbes. This modern, ground-breaking tool is just one of the many water quality tools designed by the Gulf of Mexico Alliance to help ensure healthy beaches, wetland habitat, and safe seafood in Gulf coastal areas. The registry can be found at www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org/issues/water_quality.php

This innovative Molecular Marker Registry was created at the request of Gulf of Mexico researchers who investigate methods to identify the source of microbial contamination in water bodies like rivers and bays.  Microbes are single-celled organisms, which are too tiny to see without a microscope. All water bodies contain microbes, but some areas occasionally test positive for bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa and other disease-causing microbes known as pathogens. For public safety, public officials are required to sample water bodies and sometimes close areas to popular activities like fishing or swimming if dangerous levels of pathogens are found.

A problem has been to find out where pathogens originated and how they got into the water. Did they come from fish, the cows in the field up the road, local pets, a human waste water treatment plant overflow, or something else? As you travel from river to river, bay to bay, region to region, the microbes in the guts of animals change.  This is one reason why you get sick if you drink the water in another country. There are hundreds of thousands of different types of microbes.

Thanks to cutting-edge research, these microbes can be identified using the genetic information found in their DNA/RNA.  By classifying the genetic makeup of the microbes to groups of animals and specific areas, you can narrow down the source of pathogens that contaminate water.   The Molecular Marker Registry provides a place where information about the various genetic markers of different microbes can be stored and compared. This helps scientists and regulators better understand the risks from waterborne, disease-causing microbes, including their sources and how long they survive in different types of water bodies.

The Molecular Marker Registry will be updated as additional information is received, and all new data submissions will be reviewed for accuracy. For additional information contact: Steven H. Wolfe, Gulf of Mexico Alliance, Water Quality Team Coordinator at   SHWolfe@fio.usf.edu  or visit www.GulfofMexicoAlliance.org.

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GOMA Announces 2013 All Hands Meeting

January 18, 2013

For the 2013 All Hands Meeting, GOMA travels back to Florida!  This year's meeting will be held in conjunction with the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program's biennial Gulf Guardian Awards Ceremony the week of June 25-27 at the Tampa Bay Grand Hyatt.

Registration is required to attend, but there is no registration fee.  Special group rates are available for those staying at the Tampa Bay Grand Hyatt.  Please visit http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=thgzaleab&oeidk=a07e6w82a9z0205fc34.


Contact Laura Bowie at Laura.Bowie@gomxa.org for information regarding sponsorships. 

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GOMA Team Releases Report of Study to Assess Ecosystem Services Provided by Marsh Habitat

October 15, 2012

This study identifies potential changes in ecosystem service values provided by wetland habitats in the Galveston Bay region.  The study shows that selected habitats (fresh marsh, salt marsh and swamp) present a steady decline in time under three sea level rise scenarios.

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Alliance and Gulf Universities Work Together for the Health of the Gulf

October 3, 2012

Storms, hazardous spills, climate changes, algal blooms, industrial development and coastal population growth threaten the sustained health of Gulf ecosystems.  In answer to these widely recognized risks, the Gulf of Mexico Alliance and the Gulf of Mexico University Research Collaborative have signed an agreement to work together to support science, management and education activities in the Gulf region.  The agreement helps ensure effective spending and the coordination of state, federal and university research on the long-term health of Gulf natural resources, and response to man-made and natural disasters.

The Research Collaborative formed in 2011 with funding from the University South Florida Foundation, in part, to help plan region-wide restoration efforts after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and to prepare for future response efforts.  The Collaborative unites over 70 Gulf universities from the five States of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas on a mission to sustain the long-term health of the Gulf and coastal ecosystems.

View the map of Collaborative universities:  http://gomurc.usf.edu/about.asp.

The Alliance includes the five Gulf States, with the goal of increasing regional collaboration to enhance the ecological and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico. Supported by thirteen federal agencies, academia, businesses and non-governmental organizations in the region, the Alliance has identified regional priority issues that can be addressed through increased collaboration at local, state, and federal levels.

“The agreement targets several joint activities that promote Gulf-wide science and education.  Alliance priorities are shared with the network of universities, and their representatives serve on Alliance planning teams. Gulf universities offer many opportunities for education and training related to the Alliance’s mission and the needs of state and federal agency partners,” said Andy Shepard, Director of the Research Collaborative. 

The agreement will advance Gulf-wide information management and sharing of academic research data and products.  Universities are actively producing data sets and products that potentially impact Alliance priority issues, but may not be easily accessible to the public.  New Alliance information tools help provide this access and can be found on the Alliance website. 



GOMA Announces Inaugural Business Council

August 27, 2012

In response to large economic indicators, the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) is pleased to announce the inaugural members of the newly-formed GOMA Business Advisory Council.  The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the five states of the Gulf of Mexico Coast Region was almost 2.4 trillion dollars in 2009, representing 17% of the nation’s GDP (Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2011). The Gulf Coast Region’s economy is highly intertwined with its natural resource base, including oil and gas deposits, commercial and recreational fisheries, and waterways for ports and waterborne commerce. (Source: http://stateofthecoast.noaa.gov/gulfreport.html)

The purpose of the GOMA Business Advisory Council is to ensure industry-sector participation and advisement in regional environmental initiatives.  The Council will provide a fundamental connection between policy and applied management decisions.  

Tourism         
Reuben Watkins, Ocean Explorers (Gulfwide)
Gary Ellis, Compass Media (Gulf Shores, AL)

Oil & Gas
Kent Satterlee, Shell Exploration & Production Company (New Orleans, LA)
Sandra Werner, Exxon Mobile (Houston, TX)

Manufacturing          
Tom Ballou, Sherwin Alumina (Corpus Christi, TX)
Mike Lyons, Mid-Continent Oil & Gas (Baton Rouge, LA)

Utilities
Flinda Hill, Mississippi Power/Southern Company (Gulfport, MS)

Commercial & Recreational Fishing
Mike Colby, Florida Coast Charters (Clearwater, FL)

GOMA is still seeking applications from the utilities, transportation, seafood, fishing and agriculture industries to round out the Council. 

“GOMA anticipates that the BAC will prove to be an invaluable source of advice and input from industries operating in and around the Gulf of Mexico region,” said Phil Bass of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance.  “We look forward to working with new partners on issues of regional importance.”

Members were selected from a broad range of applications submitted in spring 2012 based on their industry sector expertise and experience, community and professional affiliations, and knowledge regarding the protection and management of marine resources. Council members will serve as liaisons to others in their industry regarding regional issues addressed by GOMA.



GoMRI Awards New Grants

August 10, 2012

GoMRI announced that it has approved funding for 19 new grants that will support studies of the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico as part of the RFP II program. Roughly $20 million will be awarded to these researchers over the next three years.  RFP II is a continuation of RFP I (awarded in 2011) for individuals or small groups of researchers.

“We have complemented the eight research consortia we have already funded with important smaller grants that significantly extend the scope of work being done by GoMRI," commented Dr. Rita Colwell, chairman of the GoMRI Research Board.  "These grants help fill some gaps in GoMRI’s research portfolio that existed between the consortia.”

The GoMRI has now awarded more than $130 million of the $500 million that BP committed to independent research into the effects of the tragic Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico.

The new research grant recipients are:
Defining Ecologically Relevant Sublethal Effects: How Do Low Levels of Exposure to Oil and Dispersants Affect Performance and Survival of Larvae of Gulf Nekton?  Edward J. Chesney, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium

Dynamics of Dissolved Inorganic Carbon and Dissolved Oxygen Following Natural or Manmade Petroleum Carbon Release into Marine Environments  Wei-Jun Cai and Xinping Hu, University of Georgia

Using Embryonic Stem Cell Fate to Determine Potential Adverse Effects of Petroleum/Dispersant Exposure  Demetri D. Spyropoulos, Satomi Kohno, John E. Baatz, and Louis J. Guillette, Medical University of South Carolina

Multifunctional Colloidal Particles as Dispersants for Maximizing Biodegradation of Crude Oil  Arijit Bose, University of Rhode Island; Anubhav Tripathi, Brown University; Mindy Levine, University of Rhode Island; and Anuj Chauhan, University of Florida

Analysis of Continental Shelf Meiofauna in the Northern Gulf of Mexico: Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Investigated During a Long-Term Community Study (2007-Present)  Stephen C. Landers, Troy University; Frank A. Romano, III, Jacksonville State University; Kewei Yu, Troy University; and Martin V. Sorensen, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen

Accelerating Recovery after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Response of the Plant-Microbial-Benthic Ecosystem to Mitigation Strategies Promoting Wetland Remediation And Resilience  Irving A. Mendelssohn, Qianxin Lin, Aixin Hou, and Kevin R. Carman, Louisiana State University

Creating a Predictive Model of Microbially Mediated Carbon Remediation in the Gulf of Mexico  Jack Gilbert, University of Chicago

Large Eddy Simulation of Turbulent Dispersion of Oil in the Ocean Surface Layers: Development, Testing and Applications of Subgrid-Scale Parameterizations  Charles V. Meneveau, Johns Hopkins University; and Marcelo Chamecki, The Pennsylvania State University

Resolving Deepwater Horizon Impacts on Highly Variable Ichthyoplankton and Zooplankton Dynamics in the Northern Gulf of Mexico   Frank J. Hernandez, Jr., University of Southern Mississippi/Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

Monitoring of Oil Spill and Seepage Using Satellite Radars  Hans Graber, CSTARS-University of Miami; Brian Haus and Roland Romeiser, RSMAS-University of Miami; and John Hargrove, Sr., CSTARS-University of Miami

Effect of Photochemistry on Biotransformation of Crude Oil  Matthew A. Tarr, University of New Orleans; Russell Schmehl, Tulane University; Amy Callaghan and Joseph Suflita, University of Oklahoma

The Effect of Sediment Bioturbators on the Biological Degradation of Petroleum in Coastal Ecosystems  Paul L. Klerks, Darryl Felder, Andrei Chistoserdov, and Febee Louka, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

The Environmental Effects of an Oil Spill on Blue Crabs in the Gulf of Mexico and the Dynamics of Recovery: Integrating Oceanography and Molecular Ecology  Joseph E. Neigel, University of Louisiana at Lafayette; and Caroline M. Taylor, Tulane University

Novel Sensor System for the Early Detection and Monitoring of Offshore Oil Spills  Wei-Chuan Shih, Craig Glennie, and Zhu Han, University of Houston

Spatial and Temporal Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Growth and Productivity of Important Recreational and Commercial Fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico  Debra J. Murie, Daryl C. Parkyn, and Robert Ahrens, University of Florida

Characterizing the Composition and Biogeochemical Behavior of Dispersants and their Transformation Products in Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ecosystems  Kevin L. Armbrust, Mississippi State University; P. Lee Ferguson, Duke University; Bruce J. Brownawell and Anne E. McElroy, Stony Brook University

Weathering of Petroleum and Dispersant Components in the Aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill  Elizabeth B. Kujawinski, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; and Helen K. Whilte, Haverford College

Development of Cost-Efficient and Concentration-Independent Dispersants for Improved Oil Spill Remediation  Scott M. Grayson, Tulane University; Daniel A. Savin, University of Southern Mississippi; and Wayne Reed, Tulane University

The Combined Effect of Environmental and Anthropogenic Stressors on Fish Health  Thijs Bosker, University of Connecticut; Joseph Griffitt, University of Southern Mississippi; Maria S. Sepulveda, Purdue University; and Christopher Perkins, University of Connecticut

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EPA Awards $100,000 to LA Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to Reduce Hypoxia in the Gulf

August 6, 2012

EPA Region 6 recently awarded the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) $100,000 to reduce hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. With the grant, CPRA will develop a statewide nutrient reduction strategy, adopting strategic elements identified in the GOMA's Action Plan II and the Gulf Hypoxia Task Force's action plan.

The CPRA is the single state entity with authority to articulate a clear statement of priorities and to focus development and implementation efforts to achieve comprehensive coastal protection for Louisiana. Gulf of Mexico hypoxia (known as the "Dead Zone") is definitely a priority for CPRA.  The size of the Dead Zone varies, but can cover up to 6,000 to 7,000 square miles. The zone occurs between the inner and mid-continental shelf in the northern Gulf of Mexico, beginning at the Mississippi River delta and extending westward to the upper Texas coast. The Dead Zone is caused by nutrient enrichment from the Mississippi River, particularly nitrogen and phosphorous. 

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ACF Releases a Citizen's Guide to the Oil Spill

June 29, 2012

The Alabama Coastal Foundation (ACF) recently developed a useful guide as a part of an Environmental Protection Agency grant.  The Citizen's Guide to the Oil Spill is an educational tool to help people understand the complicated and diffuse scientific information about dispersant and crude oil chemicals related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. 

Specifically, the Citizen's Guide to the Oil Spill provides:

  • An overview of sampling and monitoring that was conducted;
  • Introductions of common terms and definitions;
  • Levels of Concern for chemicals that were monitored; and,
  • Links to help obtain monitoring data online.

The presentation file, full document, and booklet are available on through the following web page http://joinACF.org/resources/the-citizens-guide-to-the-oil-spill

ACF is a non-partisan non-profit which has the mission to improve Alabama’s coastal environment through cooperation, education and participation.

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GOMA All Hands Meeting Showcases New Partnerships and Achievements

June 22, 2012

Last week, the Gulf of Mexico Alliance conducted their 7th annual All Hands Meeting at the Omni Hotel Bayfront and Marina Towers in Corpus Christi, TX. The three-day meeting focused on shared ecological issues of the five U.S. Gulf States.  On Tuesday, the Alliance invited industry leaders from key sectors to join the annual meeting to offer insight on working together effectively.  Representatives from Shell E&P Co., Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Port of Corpus Christi, and Florida Coast Charters were candid about the challenges and rewards of doing business along the Gulf of Mexico during a panel discussion entitled “Integration with Business and Industry”.  The Alliance has traditionally been a collaboration of state and federal government partners from the five Gulf States.

“One of our major goals for this year is to bring more business and industry leaders into the Alliance to deepen the sense of stewardship of the Gulf,” said Jerome Zeringue, Alliance Chairman and Executive Director of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. “As Gulf restoration efforts go forward, we all have to work together to ensure that both public and private interests are addressed.”

“We are interested in partnering with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance because Shell wants a healthy Gulf of Mexico,” said Kent Satterlee, Manager of Offshore Regulatory Policy for Shell E&P Company. “The Alliance has demonstrated the ability to work together as coastal states alongside the federal government.”

“We are all inter-related and share the same issues,” said Herb Malone, President and CEO of the Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We all depend each other and on a healthy Gulf of Mexico.

The first day’s program also presented updates on the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force and the National Ocean Policy. Both efforts are aimed to enhance and sustain long-term ecological recovery in the Gulf. Both programs are in discussion with the Alliance to ensure coordination of efforts to reduce duplication, build on existing successes, and create a unified approach to regional ecosystem management.

Wednesday was promoted as a day to showcase the Alliance’s achievements over the past year, especially in regard to Gulf restoration efforts.

The Alliance’s Priority Issue Teams met on Thursday to address ongoing programs and discuss integration opportunities presented during the plenary sessions.

The Gulf of Mexico Alliance has been working to enhance the economic and ecological health of the region since 2004. The 2012 All Hands meeting concludes June 21, 2012 at the Omni Hotels Bayfront and Marina Towers, Corpus Christi, TX.



GOMA Invites the Public to 7th Annual Meeting

June 1, 2012

Biloxi, MS - The 7th annual Gulf of Mexico Alliance meeting is scheduled for June 19-21, 2012, in Corpus Christi, Texas.  A key topic at the conference this year is an address by the new director of the National Ocean Council, Deerin Babb-Brott, who will provide an update on the implementation of the National Ocean Policy. Also, the Alliance has invited industry leaders from key sectors such as energy, tourism and harbors to join the conference to offer insight on working together effectively, including integration and obstacles when collaborating on ecosystem programs such as National Ocean Policy objectives.  

Other key topics at the conference include the status of Natural Resource Damage Assessment restoration activities, an update on the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force and a panel dedicated to discussion regarding resilient communities.  Keynote speakers include high-ranking personnel from the Department of Interior, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. Each agency will give updates on current federal priorities. 

The two-day plenary meeting will be followed by concurrent sessions on water quality, nutrient impacts, ecosystem integration and assessment, habitat conservation and restoration, coastal community resilience, and environmental education.  These working sessions will engage participants in the Alliance’s goals and actions at the community level and leaders from around the Gulf Coast will share knowledge and expertise. The Alliance plans to build on discussions from the previous days and take advantage of broad membership to further integrate with regional priorities.

The meeting is open to the public. Registration and sponsorship information as well as a full schedule of events is available at: http://www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org.



GOMA Seeks Members for Business Advisory Council

April 27, 2012

The Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) is accepting applications to fill 16 seats on its newly-established Business Advisory Council (BAC). With the BAC, GOMA wants to ensure industry sector participation and advisement in regional initiatives for the Gulf of Mexico. The BAC will provide a fundamental connection between policy and applied management decisions. Applications must be returned to GOMA by May 16, 2012, and can be found here: BAC Application Form.

"GOMA anticipates that the BAC will prove to be an invaluable source of advice and input from industries operating in and around the Gulf of Mexico region," said Phil Bass, Gulf of Mexico Alliance Acting Director. "We look forward to working with new partners on issues of regional importance."

The following BAC industry sector seats are available at this time:

  • Tourism
  • Oil and gas
  • Manufacturing
  • Utilities / Energy (including power generation and alternative sources)
  • Transportation (including shipping and harbors)
  • Commercial and recreational fishing
  • Seafood processing
  • Agriculture

Two candidates from each sector will be selected based on their industry sector expertise and experience, community and professional affiliations, and knowledge regarding the protection and management of marine resources. Council members will serve as liaisons to others in their industry regarding regional issues addressed by GOMA.

The inaugural meeting of the GOMA BAC is scheduled for the annual GOMA "All Hands" Meeting, June 19-21, 2012 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Applications are found on the Business & Industry Partnership page of the GOMA website or by contacting Laura Bowie at Laura.Bowie@gomxa.org or 228-523-4013.


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Welcome to the new EPA Gulf of Mexico Progam Director

April 13, 2012

Ben Scaggs has been selected as the Director of the U.S. EPA Gulf of Mexico Program (GMPO) and will be responsible for overseeing this collaborative program to protect, maintain, and restore the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico.  Ben comes to the GMPO following exemplary service as Director of the Office of Administration and Resource Management at EPA's Research Triangle Park, North Carolina location. 

Ben recognizes that the Gulf of Mexico is of  tremendous ecological, economic, and social value to our region and is home to magnificent beaches, critical wetland habitats, some of the most productive fisheries in the world, and a quarter of U.S. domestic natural gas and one-eighth of its oil.  Both the resilience and the vulnerability of this region have been on national display in the last ten years, first in the impacts of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and more recently in the dramatic oil spill following the explosion and collapse of the Deepwater Horizon in 2010, the largest marine spill in the history of the petroleum industry.

Ben is no stranger to the Gulf Coast; he has family in Texas and Florida as well as his native Mississippi. His roots in and understanding of the region will serve well in collaboration with the diverse set of partners working together to create a healthy and resilient Gulf.   He assumes his new duties at the Gulf of Mexico Program Office, April 23rd.



Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Resource Guide Released

March 23, 2012

The Environmental Law Institute recently released a Resource Guide that covers the following:
• An overview of the major recovery processes and funding sources;
• Explanations of the origin, progress, and current status of each process;
• Information about the relationship among different processes;
• Answers to frequently asked questions about various planning efforts; and
• Reference items, such as citations to crucial resources.

This Resource Guide is available at the following web site: http://www.eli.org/pdf/ocean/gulf_of_mexico/gulf101.pdf.




GoMRI Names New Chief Science Officer

March 16, 2012 to March 16, 2012

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) Research Board recently announced the selection of Dr. Charles "Chuck" A. Wilson to serve as the GoMRI Chief Science Officer.  Dr. Wilson will join the Gulf of Mexico Alliance staff in the new position created by the Research Board to provide scientific research advice and leadership to the GoMRI. Dr. Wilson will coordinate the work of the GoMRI Research Board with that of the Alliance and with the various research programs.

"This is an exciting opportunity," said Dr. Wilson. "My career has spanned the conduct of research, administration, and the management of a research, outreach and education programs." He recently commented, "I enjoy envisioning partnerships and motivating people towards common goals. There are numerous opportunities for collaboration and interaction between the research consortia and other scientific teams funded by the GoMRI and I look forward to helping facilitate this collaboration."

Dr. Wilson is a distinguished scientist and academic leader. He has held faculty and administrative posts at Louisiana State University (LSU), where he joined the faculty in 1984 as an assistant professor in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences. Since then, he has risen through the academic ranks to full professor and department chairman. Most recently, he has served as Executive Director of the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, and prior to that as the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. During his tenure at LSU, Dr. Wilson has received more than $15,000,000 in private, state, and federal funding for research and education programs, and has authored or co-authored more than 100 scientific
publications.

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GOMA Celebrates Change in Leadership

February 3, 2012

Jerome Zeringue has become the new management Chair of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, taking an active lead on behalf of Governor Bobby Jindal.  Zerinque made Alliance history, shifting state leadership for only the second time since the Alliance was established in 2004.  Louisiana takes over following a long and active tenure by Dr. Bill Walker and Ms. Trudy Fisher with the State of Mississippi.

The state leadership change became official at the Gulf Summit in Houston, Texas.   Out-going co-chairs, Dr. Bill Walker and Ms. Trudy Fisher, were recognized for their dedicated service to the five state, Governor-endorsed Alliance and were presented with beautiful crystal awards.  Through their leadership the Alliance completed its second regional action plan, established a regional non-profit, successfully negotiated with BP to form the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, and oversaw federal and state appropriated funds to support the priority issues. 

As the director for the Louisiana Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration, Jerome Zeringue steps in as the new Chair of the Alliance Management Team.  Their role is to act on behalf of the states’ governors to oversee Alliance direction to address the six regional issues identified as priorities by all five Gulf States. Zeringue presided over his first meeting in January 2012 and said, “Thank-you to the State of Mississippi for their outstanding leadership of the Alliance.  As the in-coming Chair from Louisiana, I look forward to working with everyone as we continue the good work of the Alliance.  No matter the unfortunate circumstances that have led us to this point, we stand here today facing a great opportunity and an even greater challenge. We eagerly accept the challenge of restoring and enhancing the Gulf during this critical time. It is a responsibility we embrace."  Zeringue hopes to accomplish several items while Louisiana serves as the chair of the Alliance, namely the completion of objectives in the regional action plan as well as Alliance integration into the regional restoration strategy resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

For more information about the Alliance Management Team, visit http://www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org/about/amt.html. 



EPA Water Quality Criteria Changes Reflect GOMA Recommendations

January 5, 2012

The Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) Water Quality team recently announced that USEPA is revising its recreational water quality criteria and some of those changes reflect points raised by Water Quality Team members.  In a paper published in the Journal of Water and Health, the Water Quality team outlined a number of concerns regarding existing and proposed methods and criteria. 

The Water Quality team made several recommendations including ensuring that criteria formulation uses data that include Gulf of Mexico-specific conditions, that rapid-testing methods be feasible and adequately controlled, and that USEPA maintains investments in water quality research once the new criteria are promulgated in order to assure that outstanding scientific questions are addressed and that scientifically defensible criteria are achieved for the Gulf of Mexico.

The paper was completed by GOMA partners on the Water Quality Team Pathogens Workgroup including Janet Gooch-Moore (NOAA), Kelly D. Goodwin (NOAA), Carol Dorsey (ADPH), R.D. Ellender (USM), Joanna B. Mott (TA&M-CC), Mark Ornelas (ADEQ), Chris Sinigalliano (NOAA), Bob Vincent (FDoH), David Whiting (FDEP) and Steven H. Wolfe (FDEP).

The paper can be accessed http://www.iwaponline.com/jwh/009/jwh0090718.htm.



Summit Focuses on Policy, Science and Strategies for a Healthy Gulf

December 9, 2011

On December 4-8, hundreds of experts and leaders from academic institutions, government, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector came together at the 2nd State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit hosted by the Harte Research Institute.

During her keynote address, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson presented the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force's final strategy for long term ecosystem restoration for the Gulf Coast, following extensive feedback from citizens throughout the region. To view the strategy, visit http://www.epa.gov/gulfcoasttaskforce.

Another unique feature of the Summit was the emphasis on developing an effective “report card” that can be used by resource managers and decision makers in science and business to understand the impacts of our activities. "Bringing these experts together to focus attention on the Gulf of Mexico creates a level of synergy that is critical to developing solutions. We all understand the importance of an economically and environmentally sustainable Gulf of Mexico," said Dr. Larry McKinney, Harte Research Institute's Executive Director. "At the Summit, our goal is to devise a plan to make sure we get there.”



Gulf of Mexico Data Atlas Now Available

November 10, 2011

After a year in the making, the new Gulf of Mexico Data Atlas is now available, providing answers to questions related to the physical environment, marine resources and economic activity in the Gulf of Mexico.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently announced this unique product that is based on the idea of a traditional atlas but it offered via the Internet.  This initial release of the atlas has 95 map plates in 31 different subject areas with more planned for 2012.

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Coastal America Donates Underwater Cameras

October 26, 2011

Thanks to a generous gift from Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership of Coastal America, the Alliance now has two SeaViewer underwater video recording systems. These systems are the "Sea-Drop" color systems complete with a monitor and 150 feet of cable. The cameras were donated to the Alliance in support of the Presidential Executive Order of July 19, 2010 - Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes for coastal and marine spatial planning.

John Bowie, the Regional Implementation Team Chair for Coastal America, noted, "We congratulate the Alliance in its active participation in the protection and restoration of the Gulf of Mexico. We hope the cameras will enhance the Alliance's ability to communicate the Gulf's ecological productivity to the public."

The cameras are available to support any Alliance-related project on a first come basis.



Comparing U.S. and Mexican Conservation Frameworks

October 3, 2011

To effectively prevent, and possibly reverse, degradation of Gulf resources an understanding of the legal and institutional framework that currently exists is required. Recently completed, the report "Comparing Mexican & United States Legal & Institutional Frameworks" assesses and compares the Mexican and United States laws, policies, and institutions that directly or indirectly support Gulf of Mexico habitat conservation and restoration. The report was prepared by the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) and the Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental (CEMDA) for the Alliance's Habitat Conservation and Restoration Team.

The report is available for download at this link:
http://www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org/community/pubs.html.

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Adding the Human Dimension to Visualizing Coastal Resilience

September 19, 2011

An electronic tabletop device that looks similar to a game could one day be a decision-making tool for land use planners and managers in the Gulf of Mexico region according to Dr. John Jacob, Texas AgriLife Extension Service specialist and director of the Texas Coastal Watershed Program.  With help from GOMA Resilience Team funding, a scenario model called Coastal CHARM was developed and recently showcased at the GOMA All Hands meeting in New Orleans.  CHARM not only stands for Community Health And Resource Management, but it also captures how residents feel about their area; they want to keep the "coastal charm" of a community and it plays a significant role in resilience planning.

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$112.5M Awarded to Research Consortia through GRI

August 31, 2011

Research on the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico recently took a major step forward with the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GRI) Research Board's announcement that eight research consortia will be funded for the next three years.  A total of $112.5 million over three years will support this portion of the GRI research effort.  These teams will investigate the fate of petroleum in the environment, impacts of the spill, and development of new tools and technology for responding to future spills and improving mitigation and restoration.

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Alliance on National Public Radio

August 4, 2011

Among the many visitors at the 2011 Gulf of Mexico Alliance meeting in New Orleans was WWNO News out of New Orleans.  Reporter Eileen Fleming noted that public officials in the Alliance are working with scientists on how to coordinate policies to improve the health of the Gulf, especially related to the Dead Zone which forms off the Louisiana coast and extends to Texas.  Both Larry McKinney and Richard Ingram were intereviewed as part of the news report. 

Hear the full report: 

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Nutrient Toolbox Now Online!

March 15, 2012

A recent addition to the GOMA website is the Nutrient Reduction Decision Support Toolbox. The Toolbox originated from the Alliance's Nutrient Reduction priority issue team and its initiative to reduce the size of the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico as well as occurrences of hypoxic events across coastal and estuarine waters. The program is intended for use by state and local agencies and other organizations interested in reducing nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) and other pollutants in an effort to reduce Gulf hypoxia.

 

To use the Toolbox, visit: http://www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org/toolbox/toolbox.html. 



2011 Annual Meeting Focuses on Challenges and Opportunities

August 6, 2011

Leaders from across the Gulf gathered in New Orleans the week of August 1-5 for the first joint meeting of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance and Hypoxia Task Force.  The three-day meeting was centered on the challenges and opportunities for restoration in the Gulf of Mexico, particularly related to hypoxia or "Dead Zone" issues. Leaders from the five Gulf States, Mexico, up-watershed partners, Federal and State agencies, and coastal organizations were present to discuss current and upcoming strategies for a resilient future. A strong emphasis was also on other regionally important issues such as the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, Coastal & Marine Spatial Planning, Ecosystems Services Valuation, Gulf Research, International Integration and the up-coming Gulf Report Card.



Reaching Across International Boundaries

August 3, 2011

Representatives from the Mexican Gulf States were in New Orleans the week of August 1 through 5, 2011 to attend the Joint Meeting of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance and the Hypoxia Task Force. On Wednesday, a featured session on International Integration was held that focused on growing a network between U.S. and Mexican Gulf States by identifying common objectives and key issues for the Gulf. 

Dr. Porfirio Alvarez-Torres, Chief Technical Advisor for the Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem (a program of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization), commented, “The large marine ecosystem concept was developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and there are currently 64 established worldwide. The Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem is a U.S. and Mexican federal program that brings together a diverse network of individuals in the international region to collaborate and network on issues facing the Gulf."

Recently the Alliance has supported several cooperative projects between the U.S. and Mexico with assistance from the five U.S. Gulf States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other partners.   The projects include a Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center established at the Veracruz Aquarium in Mexico; bi-national workshops to standardize harmful algal bloom identification and field sampling methods in the Mexican States of Campeche, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, Veracruz and Yucatan; and the installation of several monitoring stations as part of the International Red Tide Initiative to build Mexican capacity in early detection of these harmful algal blooms. 



GRI Stop-Gap Funds Will Support Summer Research

July 20, 2011

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GRI) awarded $1.5M on July 6, 2011 to 17 scientists conducting research on the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  The short-term funding made available by these grants will allow researchers to collect crucial summer data, tiding them over until RFP I grant awards are made in the fall. 

"We're elated," says marine botanist Susanne Fredericq from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette who received one of the 17 awards.  She will use the funds to continue data gathering on seaweed and crustacean recovery deep in the Gulf of Mexico.  "Otherwise, we would miss an entire summer."

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New Campaign Targets Gulf Coast Homeowners

July 20, 2011

Developed by a partnership between the Education and Nutrient Priority Issue Teams, Smart Yard, Healthy Gulf  is a new public education campaign designed to reduce fertilizers entering local waters by helping people make responsible lawn fertilizer decisions.  Applying the proper amount of fertilizer at the proper time(s) of the growing season keeps lawns looking vibrant. It can save time and money. Not only will lawns be something to be proud of, but the Gulf of Mexico will be more resilient and healthy, including Gulf seafood!

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Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Primer Now Available!

May 10, 2011

Hot off the presses! Released during the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Research Coordination Workshop held in Bay St. Louis in April, the Primer on Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico is a product of last year's Hypoxia Coordination Workshop sponsored by the Northern Gulf Institute, Mississippi State University, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Louisiana State University, Florida State University and the University of Southern Mississippi.  The Gulf of Mexico Alliance and the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force also participated in the conference.  In addition to addressing the Alliance Nutrients Team's action items, the Primer also supports the goals and actions of the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force identified in the Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan.  It uses existing communication networks to increase awareness of hypoxia, its causes and its impacts to stakeholders, coastal managers and decision makers, as well as the general public.

For a complete copy of the Primer, click here.

For more information, please contact Ann Porter at ann_porter@deq.state.ms.us



GOMA Welcomes the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council

May 10, 2011

The Gulf of Mexico Alliance welcomes the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council as the newest member of the Alliance family. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, one of eight regional fishery management councils established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation Management Act, helps manage fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, the Council prepares fishery management plans consistent with national standards for fishery conservation and management.

Partnering with organizations such as the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will strengthen the Alliance efforts. Members of the GMFMC will actively participate in the Alliance's Ecosystems team and a representative of the Ecosystems team will attend regular GMFMC meetings.  Incorporating GMFMC into the Alliance's active programming and projects provides a gateway for communication regarding the needs for conservation of living marine resources in the Gulf that can assist the Alliance in addressing various priority issues.



SAAESD and ASRED Join GOMA

March 29, 2011

A new partnership between the Gulf of Mexico Alliance and members of the Southern Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors (SAAESD) and Association of Southern Region Extension Directors (ASRED) will expand efforts to balance agricultural needs with improved water quality.  The Alliance is a regional partnership of the five U.S. Gulf Coast States, numerous federal agencies, academia and non-governmental organizations.  SAAESD and ASRED include Agricultural Experiment Stations and Cooperative Extension Services of the southern states from Virginia to Oklahoma.  Those participating in the Alliance are:

Alabama Cooperative Extension System
Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station
Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service
Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station
Mississippi State University Extension Service
Mississippi Agricultural & Forestry Experiment Station
Texas AgriLife Extension Service
Texas AgriLife Research

Incorporating SAAESD and ASRED members into the Alliance’s active programming and projects creates a gateway for communication regarding innovative agricultural projects in the region that can assist the Alliance in addressing various issues related to the health of Gulf waters. 



Integration Workshop in Mexico is Successful

March 25, 2011

GOMA's HCRT hosted the first international workshop on integration efforts in Veracruz, Mexico in October. Addressing one of the HCRT's primary Action Items in the APII, habitat experts from both the U.S. and Mexico worked together for two days to identify common issues and ways to tackle those issues collaboratively. As a result of the workshop, two workgroups were established to determine potential pilot projects. The workgroups will focus on sediment management, sea level rise and education as well as the legal framework of policy and management issues. Future workshops will address funding, landuse planning and technology.

Congratulations to the HCRT for a job well done! For more information about HCRT activities, contact the HCRT Coordinator, Ryan Fikes, at (361) 882-3939 or email at ryan@gulfmex.org.



Mississippi Homeowner Handbooks now available!

March 25, 2011

Developing state-specific guidebooks is a specific action step in the APII, so the Resilience Team created the first of its kind for Mississippi. The Mississippi Homeowner's Handbook is designed to help homeowners prepare for natural hazards to reduce risks to family and property. While it is never possible to eliminate all damage from a natural hazard, homeowners can take action and implement many small and cost effective steps that could significantly lower risk.

A pdf version of the Mississippi Homeowner's Handbook can be downloaded from the StormSmart Coasts website: http://www.StormSmart.org.

The Alabama version of the handbook is currently being prepared in time for the 2011 hurricane season. For more information about the Homeowner's Handbooks, contact Rhonda Price at (228) 523-4150 or email rhonda.price@dmr.ms.gov.



GOMA Partner News


EPA Awards $2M in STAR Grants to Strengthen Public Health and Ecosystem Protection in the Gulf

August 27, 2012

EPA has awarded $2M in STAR research grants to strengthen public health and ecosystem protection from oil spill contaminants in the Gulf of Mexico. Four university groups, including partnerships with Gulf state universities, have been selected to work collaboratively with affected communities to identify significant risks posed by oil spills to human health and the environment, obtain their input in the design of research to help the communities address these challenges, and provide technical assistance to them so that they can use the research results. Some of the communities in which the researchers will be working include: Cocodrie, Grand Isle, Delacroix, Belle Chase, Lafitte and Golden Meadow-Leeville in Louisiana as well as in Mobile, Alabama. Research developed through this program will lead to cost-effective innovative technologies to mitigate the impact of oil spills including development of effective oil dispersants, surface washing agents, bioremediation agents, and other mitigation measures with low environmental impact. This research will provide information to minimize the risk of delays in treating oil spills, and provide comfort to communities that there will be a deployable technology that enables a rapid response to contamination of water with oil. An additional anticipated outcome is the empowerment of these communities to more actively participate in the decision making process related to the mitigation of the environmental impacts as well as an improved ability to respond to future oil spills.

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Preliminary Gulf Coast Restoration Strategy Released

October 5, 2011

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force recently released its preliminary strategy for long term ecosystem restoration. The strategy was developed by the Task Force after an extended public feedback period and presents a great opportunity to address issues that contribute to the decline of the Gulf's ecosystem, including increasing water quality, habitat restoration, coastal and marine resource protection and increasing community resilience.

Alliance acting director Phil Bass said, "The Alliance is eager to support Gulf restoration and applauds this effort by the Task Force to streamline a complex array of challenges and opportunities." Noting that the goals of the strategy are in complete allignment with the Alliance's priority issues, Bass indicated that the Alliance is in a position to significantly contribute to the successful implementation of the strategy.

The preliminary strategy is the first effort of its kind to be developed with the involvement of parties throughout the region, including the states, tribes, federal agencies, local governments and thousands of interested citizens and organizations. The plan further represents the Task Force's commitment to continue working in unprecedented collaboration to achieve critical improvements.

The preliminary strategy document was available to the public for review and feedback until October 26, 2011. The Task Force will release the final version in December 2011.   


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