Newswise — Ocean Springs, MS (November 21, 2016) – The Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) announced today the award of more than $630,000 to 19 Gulf Star projects. It is the inaugural year of the Gulf Star public-private partnership program. The awards, developed in consultation with GOMA’s Priority Issue Teams, are designed to address small, but foundational issues associated with coastal resilience, water quality, habitat resources, data sharing, wildlife, and marine debris. Together, these projects will provide data and information to inform the larger restoration efforts in the region.

The Gulf Star Program has been a slow but steady development over the past 12 months. Its initiation began with funding solicitation to support the Alliance’s new actions in the Governors’ Action Plan III. The Priority Issue Teams defined actions for early implementation. Working with the Alliance Management Team, projects were reviewed and selected.

Today’s announcement represents the first obligation of the public-private partnership. The program is a five-year program that supports projects that are tied to healthy ecosystems that impact Gulf economies. The 2016 Gulf Star partners include all five Gulf States, NOAA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Shell, Freeport McMoRan, and The Nature Conservancy. Gulf Star contributions from these partners leverage dollar for dollar.

“This is an excellent opportunity to put into action some of the science-based tools that the GOMA Teams have developed through the years. We are grateful to the Gulf Star partners for believing in the program." – Dr. Kelly Lucas, Chief Science Officer, Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and GOMA Management Team.

Unlike other restoration programs in the region, the Gulf Star program is completely voluntary and is a result of the dedication to the philosophy that collaboration bring exponential results. The 2016 projects are listed below.

Coastal Resilience- A Systematic and Integrated Approach to Creating More Resilient Communities in the Gulf of Mexico Region (Various sub-awards)- Linking Science Communications and Municipal Planning to Improve and Transform Coastal Resilience (University of Texas Marine Science Institute)- Setting the Stage for Action: Creating a Cross-Sector Snap shot of Community Resilience Using the Four Resilience Indices (Louisiana Sea Grant)

Data Sharing- Enhancing the GOMA portal to Improve Data Access for the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (Harte Research Institute)- Sediment Resource Data Collection for Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Texas (Applied Coastal Research & Engineering)

Education & Engagement- Wind Engineering Testing and Optimal Design of Structure for Wind Hazards (Louisiana State University)- Tracking Trash in Coastal Alabama (Dauphin Island Sea Lab)- Marine Debris Education and Prevention Program (Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program)

Habitat Resources- Seagrass Assessments (CNL World Consultants)- Living Shorelines Modeling in Tampa, Florida (Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission)- New Orleans Urban Youth Conservation Corps – Invasive Species Exploration Project (Limitless Vistas, Inc.)

Marine Debris- Marine Debris Microplastics Citizen Science Project (Mississippi State University)- Marine Debris Dash (Ocean Hour)- Plastic Free Gulf Coast (Gulf Coast Community Design Studio)

Water Quality- Expansion of Harmful Algal Bloom Sensor Network (Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission)- Deployment of Additional Glider Operations to Inform HAB Predictions (University of South Florida)- Social and Civic Engagement Indicators Survey for Reducing Nutrients (Mississippi State University)

Wildlife and Fisheries- Species Plan Review (Ashley Ballou Consultant)- Demography and Connectivity of Sea Turtles at Three Geographically Distinct Habitats in the Gulf of Mexico (Inwater Research Group)

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