Red snapper funding opportunity announced

A lucky anglers hauls in a red snapper from the Gulf of Mexico.

Florida Sea Grant agent Betty Staugler readies a red snapper for return to its depth using a spring-loaded descending device. (Florida Sea Grant photo)

The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, on behalf of the Sea Grant college programs in the Gulf of Mexico region and NOAA Fisheries, is accepting proposals to develop an experimental design(s) that will be incorporated into larger advanced technology and mark-recapture requests for proposals planned for Fiscal Year 2017.

The deadline for letters of intent for the design phase of this research effort is 5 p.m. Central Time on Friday, June 3, 2016.

The design will be used to assess the population of red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) on artificial reefs and other structures, and as the basis for a Gulf-wide estimate (with estimates also produced for natural habitats) of absolute abundance.

The red snapper is a popular target of anglers and the commercial fishing industry throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Historical overharvesting resulted in a depleted population, but under current management measures the population is recovering, with full recovery expected by 2032.

Some controversy surrounds the current stock assessment for red snapper, particularly with regard to accuracy of population estimates on artificial reefs and other structures considered to be difficult to sample using trawl surveys.

For detailed information, go to http://masgc.org/funding/red-snapper

Keep your eyes open for tagged crabs

Scientists at Nicholls State University in Louisiana are asking crabbers, shrimpers, fishers and the general public to report any tagged blue crab they catch. The project includes tagging in various areas of the Gulf, and the researchers are studying regional-scale movements of the blue crab. They have a special interest in females once they leave the estuaries and enter the Gulf. Each reported tag carries a reward of $5-$50.

tagging_flyer_GoM

50 Years of Sea Grant: Science Serving America’s Coasts

Here’s a look at the diverse work Sea Grant programs across the country have been doing over the last 50 years.

Tarpon Springs Business Links its Success to Florida Sea Grant

Jim Cantonis is president of Acme Sponge and Chamois of Tarpon Springs, Fla., a successful processor and wholesaler of marine sponges and sheepskin chamois products sold around the world. Florida Sea Grant contributes to the company’s success by conducting research in the biology of marine sponges that helps ensure the sustainability of the commercial fishery.

Q: Tell us about the sponge industry in Florida.

Cantonis: The natural sponge industry in Florida has had its ups and downs over the last few decades. It surged in the ’80s when there was blight in the Mediterranean. Mediterranean sponges have come back, so it’s leveled off the industry activity here. We still maintain a higher level of fishing than we had prior to that boom in the late ’80s, but not close to what we used to see in the 1920s and ’30s.

Q: Where does most of the sponge activity take place in Florida today?

Cantonis: Most of the activity in Florida now, 70%, is occurring in the Keys. But sponges are also fished off the west coast of Florida, primarily from Tarpon Springs north to Cedar Key.

Q: Tell us about Acme Sponge and Chamois.

Cantonis: I’m the fourth generation of the family business going back to the Mediterranean, a little island in Greece called Symi. That was the roots of our company,  but we actually started in the U.S., in NewYork City, when my dad at the age of 21 borrowed a thousand dollars and went there and started peddling Mediterranean sponges out of his trunk. Subsequently we moved to Chicago, then moved the whole operation down here in 1977. The new building we’re in today we built in 1985 to help us process sponges at a higher rate.

Q: What accounts for the 30% growth your business has seen over each of the last two years?

Cantonis: There’s been a real surge in using natural product, and of course there’s nothing more natural than a sponge picked out of the ocean. The biggest increase is for bath sponges, especially for bathing babies. Sponges have a natural antibacterial property to them. It’s amazing how many times we hear, ‘If it’s good enough for my baby it’s good enough for me.’

Q: How does sponge fishing relate to Florida Sea Grant?

Cantonis: Without Florida Sea Grant there would be no sponge fishery in Florida. The research done by Sea Grant and other researchers tells a wonderful story. At current harvest levels, sponges are truly a renewable resource. Sponge tissue left behind after harvesting can actually regenerate to produce a new sponge. No other fishery resource that I know of can tell the same story. This is why it is important to rely on objective scientific evidence in evaluating the management of our fishery resources. These are facts, not just conjecture by well-intentioned folks that don’t have all the information in front of them.

Q: In what ways are you engaged with Florida Sea Grant?

Cantonis: I’m involved on the Sea Grant advisory board now as vice chairman, and I value the time. It has given me the opportunity to work with all of the various constituencies concerned with the health of our coastlines from commercial fishermen to sport fishermen, from environmentalists to research scientists, to other industries unrelated to the fisheries that are directly involved in wanting quality waterways and a healthy Florida ecology.

Q: How can other business leaders become involved?

Cantonis: Call me. Or better yet, contact Florida Sea Grant at the University of Florida and tell them you’d like to get involved. It’s wonderful on two levels. Number one, it’s great for the health of our state. But it’s also a benefit for business owners that have anything to do with the fisheries and our coastline, to get involved and truly be able to make a positive difference. The program is about developing partnerships with businesses to support the work needed to solve practical problems.”

Q: How does Sea Grant ensure its relevance to Floridians?

Cantonis: It’s applied science,so it is science to me at its best. It’s not just the fisheries. It has impact on every aspect of our lives in Florida. Eighty percent of the population of Florida is within 20 miles of the coast. So we’re all directly impacted by the threats of hurricanes — by the threats of sea-level rise. And all of those things are concerns of Sea Grant.

Visit these links to learn more about Florida’s marine sponges:

 

Gulf of Mexico Alliance receives NOAA Coastal Resilience Award

The Gulf of Mexico Alliance (Alliance) received a major NOAA Coastal Resilience Grant today. Two of the six Alliance teams, Habitat Resources and Coastal Resilience, will work with 10 coastal communities to foster resilience planning and promote best practices for future mitigation actions.

Tracie Sempier (of Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance) and LaDon Swann (of Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant) are two of the project leaders who wrote the proposal that was selected for funding.

Read more about the project.

Ready to move your community toward resilience? Join us.

Are you experiencing saltwater intrusion to your aging infrastructure?

Do you have low-lying roads that are susceptible to flooding? Finding it problematic to secure funding for projects to mitigate for hazardous events? Is it difficult to communicate the risks associated with some of these impacts?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you are not alone. A recent survey revealed that coastal flooding, saltwater intrusion and risk communication are still among the most challenging issues communities in our area are facing.

So what can communities do to “move the needle” on these complex issues? Well, one way is to learn from each other. On April 19-21, 2016, the Gulf of Mexico Climate Outreach Community of Practice will be hosting its 7th Annual Meeting in Biloxi, Miss.

This year, participants will work together on the above issues in small groups to develop creative solutions and plans for taking action in their local communities. Teams of experts in science, adaptation, extension, and communication will be ready to “roll up their sleeves” and get to work brainstorming what resources can be brought to the table, what tools can be used to visualize options, and what costs are associated with various adaptation actions.

New at this year’s meeting will be a poster session and awards program that will offer an opportunity for participants to showcase best practices and current research for topics, such as climate resilient communities, clean energy future and impacts of sea level rise on coastal and estuarine systems.

Participants will go on a field trip and learn how the City of Biloxi is tackling climate issues with new ordinances, high water mark initiatives and a commitment to the Community Rating System. Of course you don’t want to miss the Spirit of Community Awards, which recognize excellence in the field of climate communication and adaptation. To top it all off, a down-home fish fry will give participants an opportunity to network while enjoying the sights and sounds of Old Biloxi.

Why attend a gathering of this kind? Because you can make the difference in moving the needle toward a more resilient future. This year, decide to take action, commit to pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and make plans to join us for an experience that will be well worth your time and energy. Registration will open in early February.

Learn more about the meeting here.

Nov. 18 oil spill science seminar to discuss Gulf seafood

The Sea Grant college programs in the Gulf of Mexico will host an oil spill science seminar, “Healthy Gulf Seafood,” from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18, in the Hardy Hall Ballroom at The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park Campus, 730 E. Beach Blvd., in Long Beach, Miss.

shrimp web

The seminar will focus on how agencies tested seafood during and after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and what they found. Speakers also will talk about ways that fish and other animals break down contaminants, like oil, and how scientists monitor seafood to keep consumers safe.

There is no registration fee, and lunch will be provided. Registration is required to receive lunch. You can register online  or call Larissa Graham, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant oil spill extension specialist, at 251-348-5436.

The seminar will also be available online as a webinar.

The Oil Spill Science Outreach Program is a partnership between the Sea Grant programs in the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). The Gulf of Mexico Alliance manages and administers funding for GoMRI. The purpose of the outreach program is to share oil spill science with people whose livelihoods depend on a healthy Gulf.

Innovative national conference to explore how communities solve waterfront challenges

photo of sailboats in biscayne bay

Situated on Biscayne Bay, the city of Miami experiences many of the issues that waterfront communities face each day. (Florida Sea Grant photo)

As urban, commercial, and rural waterfronts across the U.S. face challenges to their continued existence and development, community leaders are increasingly finding solutions by listening, learning and interacting with each other.

That’s the impetus behind the National Working Waterfronts and Waterways Symposium, which runs this year from Nov.16-19 in Tampa, Fla.

It’s the only conference of its kind to bring together planners, property developers, researchers, elected officials, attorneys, and other stakeholders from waterfront communities to learn about local, state and national initiatives, management approaches and tools to address issues of water access and water-dependent industries.

Attendees will hear about new approaches that increase the capacity of coastal communities to balance competing uses and plan for the future of working waterfronts and waterways, according to conference organizer Bob Swett, a specialist in boating issues and waterways planning for Florida Sea Grant.

“They are dedicated champions of local working waterfronts, and they come from throughout the U.S. to share ideas and solutions, and to learn about new approaches,” he said. “Being in the company of hundreds of such like-minded souls can be quite transformative.”

This year’s conference includes sessions on redevelopment of waterfront communities, marine industry sustainability, surviving commercial fishing declines, land-use issues related to waterway management, and preserving maritime culture and heritage.

Registration for the symposium is $425 until Oct. 19. For commercials entities and organizations wishing to engage with attendees, sponsorships that include display space are available through a range of packages on a first-come, first-served basis.

Complete symposium details are available at the conference website, http://www.conference.ifas.ufl.edu/NWWWS/index.html.