MASGC Project Impacts

Increasing local government capacity to foster community resilience

Relevance:

Municipalities in coastal areas face unique planning challenges related to coastal erosion, flooding and the threat of hurricanes. City land use planners and floodplain managers may lack the resources, tools, and knowledge to address the issues in a comprehensive manner.

Response:

MASGC, with its diverse team of coastal scientists and outreach specialists, is uniquely positioned to bring the latest coastal science and policy to local government officials. In 2015, MASGC partnered with the Mississippi Chapter of the American Planning Association to organize a climate workshop series, which provided continuing education for planners and floodplain managers on coastal sustainability and local resiliency. MASGC also continued to provide technical assistance and support to Mississippi’s Coastal Hazards Outreach Strategy Team (CHOST).

Results:

Fifty individuals received professional development training and continuing education credits through the 2015 climate workshop series. MASGC has also facilitated numerous CHOST events and activities, including the annual mall outreach event and a February 2016 workshop co-sponsored by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and MASGC to provide an introduction to FEMA’s Community Rating System program. 

Recap:

MASGC serves as a valuable outlet for continuing education by addressing diverse coastal disciplines through planning workshops, while also directly facilitating community engagement by rendering aid to professional support groups such as CHOST. (2015)

Communities receive technical assistance on Program for Public Information

Relevance:

In 2013, FEMA revised the eligible activities for points under the Community Rating System (CRS). User groups no longer receive points. Communities need new ways to recoup lost points, to maintain class ratings and associated discounts on flood insurance policies. Under the new CRS manual, communities gain points by participating in the newly created Program for Public Information (PPI). Because the PPI is complex and requires approval from local governments, communities requested technical assistance.

Response:

MASGC worked with partners, including national PPI experts, to develop a daylong intensive PPI training targeted to floodplain managers and CRS coordinators in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The workshop was held Jan. 22, 2015 and attended by 42 individuals representing 7 organizations, 22 communities, and 6 counties. Following the workshop, MASGC provided individual technical assistance on the formation of a PPI to Mississippi coastal communities. To date, MASGC has met with the cities of Long Beach, Pass Christian, Biloxi and Harrison County. MASGC has facilitated Biloxi’s creation of a PPI by drafting documents, inventorying flood insurance outreach activities, and facilitating PPI committee meetings.

Results:

With facilitation from MASGC, Biloxi, MS has established a PPI committee that brings together local government officials and community stakeholders. Through the committee, Biloxi has developed a stronger dialogue with community stakeholders that will allow Biloxi to further refine flood insurance outreach strategies in the future.

Recap:

MASGC facilitates creation of Program for Public Information to assist communities with maintaining Community Rating Scores and associated discounts on flood insurance policies. (2015)

City evaluates vulnerability of infrastructure, prioritizes actions based on predicted flooding due

Relevance:

As climate continues to change, localized flooding is becoming more frequent. Local hazard mitigation plans generally do not take into consideration the increased flooding risks due to sea level rise. Data is not available at a scale where decisions can be made to protect critical infrastructure and facilities.  

Response:

The City of Ocean Springs used funds from a small grant provided by MASGC to produce localized maps depicting vulnerability of roads, beaches and other infrastructure to flooding due to sea-level rise. The study outlined recommended mitigation actions along with a summary of their pros and cons (e.g. adapting infrastructure to coastal drainage, erosion prevention and transportation infrastructure). The city then conducted a public outreach campaign to determine what types of mitigation measures residents would support to address these vulnerabilities.

Results:

The City of Ocean Springs conducted a sea-level rise study to identify critical infrastructure at risk to flooding. The city prioritized mitigation actions and is working to address its vulnerabilities through applying for grant opportunities, updating codes and revisiting their comprehensive plan.

Recap:

The results of The City of Ocean Springs’ sea-level rise vulnerability study and subsequent public outreach led to updates in its zoning code and comprehensive plan. The city also used information from the study to prioritize capital improvements. (2015)

Field-applicable Vibrio parahaemolyticus detection kits validated for use

Relevance:

Despite Vibrio parahaemolyticus management plans and industry efforts, illness rates continue to go up indicating that industry and regulators have been unable to manage the problem. Rapid and easy-to-use tests kits for enumeration of total and pathogenic V. parahaemolyticus in oysters will provide investigators a rapid and cost-effective tool to evaluate not only the practice of re-submersion following anti-biofouling, but also other aquaculture practices that state and federal regulators may find likely to increase the risk of vibrio illness. 

Response:

The team of Mississippi State University and FDA has developed a simple, rapid and low cost Vp assay kits to currently accepted methods that will expand industry capacity to develop new PHP approaches, such as high-salinity relaying or depuration.

Results:

These tests provide a simple, rapid (18 hour) result for total and potentially pathogenic V. parahaemolyticus levels in oysters. Initial testing demonstrated 100 percent specificity against 48 V. parahaemolyticus and 26 non-Vp and sensitivity of less than 10 cells/test. Using the 96-well plate format, comparability testing demonstrated excellent reliability of these test kits, with 183 naturally-incurred oyster samples from the Gulf, Atlantic and Pacific coasts tested and good agreement (P < 0.05) was observed between the test kit for total V. parahaemolyticus and Most Probable Number real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction.

Recap:

Scientists create a rapid, easy-to-use and cost-effective Vp assay kit to detect V. parahaemolyticus in oyster samples. (2015)

Marine safety training saves lives

Relevance:

Commercial fishing continues to be the most dangerous occupation in the United States. In 2014, 38 commercial fishing fatalities were reported in the US. Fatalities occurred most frequently along the East Coast (42 percent) and in the Gulf of Mexico (26 percent). Seven of the fatalities in the Gulf of Mexico were suffered by the shrimp fleet. To address commercial fishing-related fatalities, federal law requires that captains of vessels operating in federal waters ensure that crew members receive safety instructions and onboard safety drills are conducted once a month by certified Commercial Fishing Vessel Drill Conductors. A limited number of trainers are available to offer courses in the Gulf of Mexico, which can make it difficult for the Gulf fleet to operate in compliance with the law.

Response:

To meet this educational need, MASGC outreach personnel obtained U.S. Coast Guard certification to offer Alaska Marine Safety Education Association (AMSEA) Commercial Fishing Vessel Drill Conductor training courses. MASGC organized and implemented two 12-hour courses for 27 professional fishermen in 2015. 

Results:

To date, a total of 90 fishermen in Mississippi and Alabama have become Coast Guard Certified Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Drill conductors as a result of MASGC’s role in organizing and implementing training. In August 2014, two AMSEA-trained Vietnamese fishermen, one of which was trained by MASGC outreach personnel, survived a vessel collision and successfully abandoned into their life raft.

Recap:

MASGC offered safety training for commercial fishermen that helped them comply with U.S. Coast Guard safety drill requirements and reduced fatalities in the Gulf of Mexico fleet. (2015)

Coastal surveys inform beach, dune management in Nueces County, Texas

Relevance:

Nueces County needed a current and accurate survey of the mean high tide (MHT) and mean low tide (MLT) lines on Mustang and North Padre Island. The barrier island and the Gulf beaches have always been the number one attraction for visitors. These assets are extremely important to the residents of the community, but equally important to flora and fauna of the biotic community (some of which are listed as critical or endangered) unique to this area of the coastal zone of Texas. Maintaining an accurate assessment of mean high and low tide, as well as the line of vegetation, is a critical input to the methods the county and city use to protect the dune system from development encroachment.

Response:

The project accomplished four specific tasks. 

Task 1: Completed Coastal Jurisdictional Boundary Surveys for 22 miles of Gulf of Mexico shoreline along Mustang and North Padre Island. 

Task 2: Reviewed and assimilated available historical data. 

Task 3: Coastal Habitat Restoration GIS (CHRGIS). 

Task 4: Summarized project and made recommendations future efforts.

Results:

Nueces County established solid baseline survey data to establish setback rules that protect massive dune structures, mitigate storm-related impacts to property and ensure beaches remain open and accessible. 

Recap:

This Nueces County, Texas, project established solid baseline coastal boundary lines from which all management, policy, permitting and regulatory efforts are derived. It also promoted coastal resilience and protection of 22 miles of beaches and dune systems. (2015)