NOAA announces $15.6 million in grants for Gulf ecosystem research
The NOAA RESTORE Science Program has awarded approximately $15.6 million in grants to four teams of researchers and resource managers from across 20 institutions including universities, federal and state agencies and non-governmental organizations to support work on living coastal and marine resources and their habitats in the Gulf of Mexico.
“These awards continue NOAA’s commitment to producing timely and high-quality science to support the management and sustainability of the Gulf of Mexico,” said Steven Thur, director of NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. “Improving our understanding of long-term trends in the Gulf will help us make the decisions now and in the future necessary to ensure the Gulf remains a vibrant resource for the nation.”
The grants are in response to the RESTORE Act, which in July 2012 authorized the use of administrative and civil penalties resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to restore and protect the natural resources, ecosystems, fisheries, marine and wildlife habitats, beaches, coastal wetlands and economy of the Gulf Coast region.
The four teams of researchers and resource managers receiving the awards are:
Nova Southeastern University, Florida ($2,794,147): Identify long-term trends in fish, shrimps, cephalopods and other animals in the deeper regions of the Gulf of Mexico and provide this information to resource managers.
University of South Alabama ($2,887,250): Explore how oyster, blue crab, and spotted seatrout respond to human and environmental changes in order to improve the management of these economically and culturally important species.
Mississippi State University ($3,922,699): Investigates how three bird species–black rail, yellow rail, and mottled duck–respond to different fire management methods in Gulf ecosystems.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission ($6,018,538): Combines habitat and water quality information with three reef fish surveys into a comprehensive database to improve stock assessments of important fisheries.
These projects will run for five years, with highly performing projects eligible for a five-year non-competitive renewal. NOAA consulted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in awarding the grants.