A Primer on Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico
Released during the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Research Coordination Workshop held in Bay St. Louis in April 2011, 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.
Benthic Index of Biotic Integrity for Estuarine and Near-coastal Waters
The GOMA Nutrients Team developed a benthic Index of Biological Integrity (IBI) for estuarine and near-coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico using benthic invertebrate data from National Coastal Assessment sampling efforts. This biological indicator will assist in investigation of linkages among the benthic biological community structure, intermediate stressors, and nutrient concentrations. A classification system was developed for different zones and site classes in the Gulf of Mexico coastal waters. The progress made was toward development of biological endpoints that will contribute to evidence based development of nutrient criteria for these waters. The work completed under this project is available to be used as information for the GOMA sources, fate and transport studies done in the Gulf and will be useful to the Gulf States as nutrient criteria development activities continue.
Community Outreach & Education Across the Gulf
Smart Yard, Healthy Gulf
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! More information available at www.smartyardhealthygulf.com.
Conceptual Model for Mercury Cycling in the Gulf
Mercury has been found in sometimes-high concentrations in some species of Gulf fish and has been identified as a human-health risk. Increased understanding of the cycle of mercury through the Gulf of Mexico food web will help to identify the important sources of mercury and will improve the ability of state and federal agencies to reduce the risk of mercury exposure.
Decision Support Toolbox
Establishing nutrient criteria for coastal waters and estuaries could improve their quality and productivity, but the challenge is to eliminate only the excess nutrients while maintaining adequate levels to ensure ecosystem productivity. The purpose of the Nutrient Reduction Decision Support Toolbox is to increase knowledge of nutrient runoff and to inform and improve policy decisions as well as building the capacity to respond to change and challenges among Gulf Decision makers. The toolbox originated from the Alliance’s Nutrient Reduction priority issue team and its initiatives to reduce the size of the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico as well as occurrences of hypoxic events across Gulf of Mexico 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 to our water bodies in an effort to reduce Gulf hypoxia.
Emergent Wetland Status and Trends Report - Chapter 1
The Introduction, Methods, Study Area, Alabama Statewide Summary, Mobile Bay Vignette, Mississippi Statewide Summary, Mississippi Sound Vignette, and a comprehensive Literature Survey on Gulf of Mexico emergent wetlands is posted at http://gom.usgs.gov under the Ecosystems Integration and Assessment page. Florida, Texas, and Louisiana chapters coming soon!
Environmental Education Across the Gulf
The Dauphin Island Sea Lab supports the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Environmental Education priority issue by implementing a three-year competitive mini-grant program to the five U.S. Gulf States. The mini-grant program focused on K through 20 Education, Public Awareness and Community Outreach and Education.
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 allow for the distribution and sharing of information about ES valuation studies relevant to Gulf of Mexico region and to identify current gaps in the ES literature. The studies summarized here are for habitats that are relevant to the Gulf region even though they may have been conducted elsewhere.
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 a "ES VISUALIZED" tab to provide users with a visual representation of each ES. This is especially useful in outreach and educational opportunities.
GOMAportal.org is a Gulf of Mexico geospatial data repository which consists of a metadata catalog that allows users to perform spatial and text searches on metadata records, download most datasets via FTP, and view map services. GOMAportal.org relies on state and local partners to identify and gather relevant data for their regions, and thus far, partners have collected and upgraded roughly 800 metadata records to FGDC-compliant using the Metadata Enterprise Resource Management Aid (MERMAid) tool.
GOMA’s Clean & Resilient Marina Initiative
Just released as part of the Coastal Community Resilience Team's Clean & Resilient Marina Initiative, the Clean & Resilient Marina Guidebook calls for the promotion and expansion of resilient and environmentally responsible operations and best management practices at marinas. It builds on the Gulf of Mexico States' proven Clean Marina Certification Programs. This improved program complements Clean Marina practices already in place and provides additional recommendations to strengthen local marinas' ability to withstand natural and man-made disasters. GOMA's Clean & Resilient Marina Guidebook is a three document set that provides marina owners and operators with useful information on tools and recommended practices. In addition, a Clean & Resilient Marina Policy Guide and an Educational Tri-fold Brochure are available. Click below for downloads:
Clean & Resilient Marina Guidebook Document Set:
Clean & Resilient Marina Guidebook-at-a-Glance (pdf, 1 MB)
Clean & Resilient Marina Guidebook Volume I (pdf, 2 MB)
Clean & Resilient Marina Guidebook Volume II-Appendices(pdf, 42 MB)
Gulf of Mexico Alliance StormSmart Coasts Network
StormSmart Coasts is a Gulf of Mexico Alliance Web resource dedicated to helping decision makers in coastal communities address the challenges of storms, flooding, sea-level rise and climate change. Specifically tailored for Florida, the Florida StormSmart Coasts Website enhances resilience in local communities by assisting with adjustments to day-to-day living, as well as adjustments to the processes and planning for long-term development of coastal areas. The StormSmart Coasts network connects federal, state, and local community decision-makers, giving them a definitive place to find and share the best resilience-related resources and tools available.
Find the Gulf Coast-customized state pages on the StormSmart network here: http://stormsmartcoasts.org/.
Gulf of Mexico Data Atlas
In response to historic degradation and recent destruction from hurricanes
and man-made disasters, there is a high demand for data and information that
describes baseline conditions in the Gulf by the federal and state agencies
empowered to respond to these disasters. The Gulf of Mexico Data Atlas is a
new, comprehensive, high resolution, Internet-based data atlas designed to
provide information necessary to answer questions regarding the current
conditions of the coastal/marine environment, coastal infrastructure, and
the socioeconomic status and trends of the Gulf.
This Gulf of Mexico Data Atlas provides a source of reliable online data for
the Gulf region for use by NOAA and the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration
Task Force as an initial baseline from which to formulate the response
necessary to restore the Gulf.
Gulf of Mexico Master Mapping Plan (GMMMP)
The Gulf of Mexico Master Mapping Plan (GMMMP) is a comprehensive plan to collaboratively acquire data on the physical characteristics of the Gulf region, particularly elevation, shoreline, and surface data. The Gulf is too large for any one agency to map, thus a collaborative approach is required; one that identifies and fulfills all mapping requirements with ongoing mapping programs. Therefore, by aligning data collection methods and sharing resources, critical mapping information can be collected at a lower cost to the program partners.
Click for Website: http://goma.sam.usace.army.mil/
Gulf Regional Sediment Management Master Plan
The Gulf Regional Sediment Management Master Plan (GRSMMP) is a collection of products intended to guide more effective management of sediment resources in the Gulf for habitat conservation and restoration as well as coastal community resilience. Integral to the GRSMMP is recognition of sediments as valuable resources. It will facilitate sediment management on a regional scale unencumbered by agency, state, or national boundaries. The GRSMMP uses the understanding of sediment dynamics (inputs, outputs, movement) to inform management of sediment resources to accomplish Alliance goals.
A technical framework document was drafted as a first step. It presents information about the regional sediment processes and sediment resources that are key for establishing effective management guidelines, developing sub-regional strategies, and enhancing cooperative management decisions. It provides a basis for matching sediment resources with conservation and restoration needs, for assessing competing demands for sediment, and for understanding sediment-related ecological considerations which can help improve plans and management practices. It identifies agency authorities and policies related to sediment management to provide a basis for future discussions of improving practices and addressing impediments. Recommendations and guidelines resulting from this effort will aid the Gulf States in more effective management of sediment resources, recognizing their programs are part of a regional system involving natural processes, interrelated objectives, and a range of anthropogenic activities.
Read more, get the GRSMMP Technical Framework document.
Larry Parson and Carl Ferraro
Through a series of international meetings, the HCRT is establishing a network between U.S. and Mexican counterparts. Participants are identifying common goals and key issues for the Gulf and formulating strategies to address them in both countries. A workshop, held October 14-15, 2010 in Veracruz, Mexico, focused on differences and similarities between the countries’ environmental, civil, and social challenges as well as the potential for creating a counterpart for GOMA on the Mexican side. The group considered the GOMA priority issues in light of the variation in socioeconomic, policy, and environmental contexts of the two countries. As the international network develops, pilot projects will ultimately bring methods and resources from both sides of the border into play to catalyze binational working relationships and ecosystem-based management.
Working group members also participated in a meeting for Mexico’s Large Marine Ecosystem effort held in Veracruz February 21-23, 2011. A newsletter was established to stimulate an ongoing discussion among the participants. Read more about the International Workshops.
Quenton Dokken and Drew Puffer
New Partner: Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is now a formal GOMA Partner. A member from the council will now participate with the EIA PIT. Additionally, an EIA PIT member will attend council meetings to further strengthen this partnership.
Overview of Methods for Sampling and Analyzing HAB Toxins
Within the Gulf of Mexico, extending into the bays and estuaries to the tidal reach, there are currently more than 50 known algae species with the potential to produce harmful effects. Blooms of these species are called harmful algal blooms (HABs). The most significant HAB species from the perspective of human or animal health are microalgae that produce toxins. Some species, however, have a deleterious impact by causing functional damage to fish gills or being concentrated by filter-feeding shellfish, which then are rendered toxic to human consumers. Other microalgae can be indirectly detrimental to the environment through impacts on the ecosystem, such as out-competing and replacing species that are better food sources, shading of sea grasses, or contributing to the development of hypoxia. The GOMA HABS workgroup is working on developing forecasting capabilities in order to gain a better understanding of the environmental and human-induced factors that cause harmful algal species to bloom and dissipate; both action and understanding help to reduce the effects of harmful algal blooms on human and natural resource health, while minimizing impacts to the coastal economy. For these reasons, the GOMA HABs Workgroup is implementing the Harmful Algal Bloom Integrated Observing System (HABIOS) for the Gulf of Mexico.
Public Awareness Across the Gulf
Coastal Ecosystem Learning Centers
Working through the Coastal America Foundaiton, the Alliance EE Team established a network of Coastal Ecosystem Learning Centers throughout the Gulf region. The network creates a partnership between certain federal agencies and marine education centers in the area. Most Learning Centers are aquariums, but marine science centers and laboratories are also part of this dynamic network. The network is constantly growing and evolving to address our nation's top coastal and marine issues. Today, there are five Learning Centers across the Gulf working together to educate and involve the public in protecting our nation's coastal and marine ecosytems.
Recommendations for Long Term Monitoring in the Gulf
Healthy Gulf coast habitats and the plants and animals living in them depend on good water quality. The coastal economies of the Gulf States are generally based on these ecosystems. Good management decisions about coastal fisheries, recreation, tourism, public health, and sustainable development depend on available information about the quality of the water, and the condition and health of the ecosystems depending on that water. Good management is built on good information that is based on good data from water resource monitoring. On September 10-12, 2012, the GOMA Water Quality Team, in concert with the GOMA Nutrients Team and the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, held the Gulf Nutrient-Monitoring Design meeting at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, FL. The purpose was to develop a draft monitoring network design to address priority questions developed by the Nutrients Team. Participants included state representatives, monitoring design experts, GOMA federal partners, nutrients experts, and modelers who created monitoring system designs for both Gulf-wide and regional scales of Gulf monitoring, and provided guidance and templates to guide the design of estuarine and coastal monitoring systems. The report resulting from the initial nutrient monitoring design workshop is available at the link below. A workshop to add the GOMA monitoring priorities for harmful algal blooms, pathogens, and mercury to the existing nutrient-monitoring plan will take place in early March, 2013, with implementation-planning workshops to follow. CLICK "View PDF" below for document.
The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Training effort is a unique regional collaboration designed to deliver relevant information to key stakeholders on issues related to the ecological and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico. Through the framework of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, the five Gulf Coast National Estuarine Research Reserve Coastal Training Programs are now working together to bridge the science, policy and management communities on a regional scale. Recent workshops include those to promote proactive resilience and mitigation measures and to improve coordination between emergency managers, floodplain manager’s natural resource managers, land use planners, and county officials.
Resilient Coastal Development through Land Use Planning
Like land use planning, community resilience begins at the local level. How does the community envision itself in 20, 40, 50 years? Who lives here in the future? What type of businesses does the community want to attract? What are the existing identified challenges? What might be future challenges? The answers to all these questions and more help local communities develop a comprehensive approach for the future, and in doing so, improve the resilience of the community as a whole.
Land use planning is one way that local communities can achieve greater resilience. The tools included in this report represent broad categories of land use issues that local communities may encounter and provide resources for developing resilient land use policies in a variety of areas. As acknowledged by the Gulf of Mexico Alliance’s Governors’ Action Plan II, sustainable coastal development is an essential component of strengthening and enhancing the long-term health of our coastal communities. See attached PDF for more information.
Review of Coastal Conservation Policies
Conservation & Restoration in the GoM: Comparison of Mexico/U.S. Policy, Law & Management
Building upon the existing system of laws, policies and institutions, the project team, made up of The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) and the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA) teamed up to develop a well-reasoned strategy for enhanced collaboration between Mexico and the United States toward habitat conservation and restoration goals and actions.
Federal Standard Issues & Recommendations
In 2010, the HCRT conducted workshops on the Federal Standard and indentified a set of issues in the policy to consider in developing recommendations for policy changes. Those recommendations, entitled Beneficial Use of Dredged Sediment & the Federal Standard: Issues of Concern and Recommenationss for Action by the Alliance Management Team, were submitted to the AMT during the 2010 GUlf of Mexico Alliance meeting in Biloxi, MS. HCRT state leads are currently focused on moving these recommendations forward.
Analysis and Recommendations for Increasing Restoration and Conservation on Private Lands
The Land Trust Alliance (LTA) led this stakeholder-based analysis of policies and programs. Key entities working with private landowners in each of the five states were engaged and their input is summarized in the final report, which was completed in May 2011.
Analysis of State and Federal Policy & Regulatory Programs that Provide Protection to Coastal Habitats in the Gulf of Mexico
ELI produced this rich analysis of state and federal policies and programs that affect conservation on the Gulf Coast.
Cherie O’Brien and Jim Pahl
Many groups routinely take measurements in ambient waters of the Gulf of Mexico. However, each group uses slightly different standard operating procedures (SOPs), equipment, and standards, which leads to an unknown amount of variability in the data collected. The Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) identified the need to assess this variability and to explore ways to decrease variability in the data values based solely on changes to SOPs. The GOMA chose to carry out round robins to determine the types and causes of variability, and use subsequent discussions to help improve data comparability. For the Field Round Robins, two areas that may affect data comparability were identified: (1) measurements taken while in the field (= field measurements) and (2) samples collected (= water samples). The second part focuses on the potential variability in data reported by laboratories resulting from differences in sample collection. In the case of field round robins, the samplers are the focus; for analytical round robins, the focus is on the laboratories that analyze water collected from around the Gulf and the methods they use. Analytical round robins look at the variability among particular analytes between local, state, federal, academic, and private laboratories. The overall purpose of the analytical round robins is to examine the degree of data comparability present in order to determine the potential need to standardize, update, or develop methods across the Gulf of Mexico. There have been six field round robins and nine analytical round robins to date.
Click below for "Round Robin" Documents:
Field Round Robin #1 (pdf)
Field Round Robin #2 (pdf)
Field Round Robin #3 (pdf)
Field Round Robin #4 (pdf)
Field Round Robin #5 (pdf)
Field Round Robin #6 (pdf)
Analytical Round Robin #1 (pdf)
Analytical Round Robin #2 (pdf)
Analytical Round Robin #3 (pdf)
Analytical Round Robin #4 (pdf)
Analytical Round Robin #5 (pdf)
Analytical Round Robin #6 (pdf)
Analytical Round Robin #7 (pdf) - document in progress
Analytical Round Robin #8 (pdf)
Analytical Round Robin #9 (pdf) - document in progress
Smart Yard Healthy Gulf Campaign
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!
Ann Porter and Lee Yokel
White Paper Published in "Journal of Water and Health"
The USEPA is revising its recreational water quality criteria and some of those changes reflect points raised in a white paper written by the Water Quality Team and published in the Journal of Water and Health. The paper outlined a number of concerns regarding existing and proposed methods and criteria, 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.