MASGC Project Impacts

Trade Adjustment Assistance training leads to more than $2M in direct payments to AL, MS shrimpers

Relevance:

Producers in the U.S. shrimp industry are experiencing economic hardships because of rising production costs and competition from imported shrimp causing many shrimpers to be forced into leaving the industry. In order for the domestic fishery to remain viable, producers need to learn how to reduce operating costs and get more money for their catch. In 2010, the Southern Shrimp Alliance successfully petitioned for shrimp harvested in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas) to be considered an eligible commodity for the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for Farmers program in FY2010. Nearly 4,000 members of the shrimping industry from throughout the eight states applied to participate in the FY2010 TAA program.

Response:

Before becoming eligible for cash benefits, each producer must receive 12 hours of TAA Intensive Technical Assistance and develop an initial business plan that will help them become more competitive in the world marketplace. In 2011, 22 3-hour TAA workshops were conducted on topics designed to increase the global competitiveness and economic levels of Gulf and South Atlantic shrimpers. Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant outreach personnel developed training modules, help industry members fill out forms and paperwork, and assisted with workshop advertisement, logistics, and facilitation. More than 750 commercial fishermen from Alabama and Mississippi participated in the TAA workshops.

Results:

In Alabama and Mississippi, 789 shrimpers each received 12 hours of Intensive Technical Assistance under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program for Shrimpers, making each eligible for $4,000 in cash benefits. So far, this totals $3,156,000 in additional earnings for these producers, which will increase as more applicants complete the training requirements.

Recap:

Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium outreach was instrumental in helping shrimpers obtain training and cash benefits under the USDA Trade Adjustment Assistance Program. For more information on this program, visit www.taaforfarmers.org. (2014)

Low-impact development ordinances encourage smart growth practices in Alabama’s D’Olive Watershed

Relevance:

When impervious cover within a watershed exceeds 25 percent, the chance to pursue meaningful stream restoration is greatly diminished. Currently, impervious cover within the D’Olive Watershed ranges from 20-25%. According to the D’Olive Watershed Management Plan, impervious cover could approach 38% (assuming 100% build-out by 2020). Increased volume and velocity of stormwater runoff and changes to drainage patterns have escalated concerns over erosion and sedimentation within the watershed’s stream network and D’Olive Bay and Mobile Bay, its receiving waters.

Response:

Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant and the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program facilitate the D’Olive Intergovernmental Task Force in an effort to restore the D’Olive Watershed, which includes the cities of Daphne and Spanish Fort. The task force formed in 2011 on recommendation of the D’Olive Watershed Working Group, a coalition of federal, state and local agencies, property owners, developers and commercial interests. The task force strategically implements management measures set forth in the watershed management plan.

Results:

Through the D’Olive Watershed Working Group, Daphne and Spanish Fort have worked to implement consistent ordinances to encourage low-impact development (LID) and green infrastructure techniques to minimize impervious cover in future developments. In 2013, Daphne enacted Ordinance No. 2013-12, which states, “In order to preserve the integrity, stability, and the value of land, the City encourages the use of innovative, LEED-certified and/or other green practices in development design” and includes recommended LID practices.

Recap:

LID and green infrastructure ordinances adopted by Daphne in 2013 and under development in Spanish Fort will allow future development to incorporate smart growth concepts, minimizing impacts of impervious cover. (2014)

Semmes, Alabama, includes low-impact development provisions into subdivision regulations

Relevance:

The city of Semmes is a newly incorporated city in the 8-Mile Creek watershed in Mobile County, Alabama, with a population of 3,015 people. The Semmes Planning Commission seeks to foster future growth while preserving the rural character of the community. 38 % of the total acres and 15% of the total parcels of property in the city’s jurisdiction are currently undeveloped. As a new city, the Planning Commission needed to develop planning documents and regulations that guided future development, yet ensured achievement of community goals, such as protecting streams, open space and fostering conservation development.

Response:

Auburn University researchers, funded by the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium to develop watershed models to predict water quality impacts of land use change, met with Alabama Department of Environmental Management and Semmes City officials to discuss the benefits of low impact development (LID). LID is an approach to land development (or re-development) that attempts to work with nature to manage stormwater as close to its source as possible. LID employs principles such as preserving and recreating natural landscape features and minimizing effective imperviousness to create functional and appealing site drainage.

Results:

Several of the actions and policies suggested by the researchers were incorporated into the Semmes Subdivision Regulations, adopted on January 27, 2012 and subsequently revised on several occasions. For instance, model stream buffer policies were adopted and are measured as follows: “Within 150 feet of a public drinking water source and any associated tributaries and/or wetlands; within 100 feet of streams and associated wetlands; and within 75 feet of natural drainage features and adjacent and/or isolated wetlands.” These stream buffers and other policies will promote water quality, natural resource planning, and low impact development within Semmes.

Recap:

Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant researchers helped the City of Semmes develop and adopt subdivision regulations that focus on conservation, stream conservation, stream buffer, and LID policies. (2014)

Certification programs enhance stewardship knowledge and practices of Alabama nature-based tourism

Relevance:

Both residents and visitors to the Gulf Coast are increasingly interested in experiencing the natural history and culture of coastal and ocean environments. Wildlife viewing activities hold tremendous potential for stimulating local economies while celebrating natural wonders and cultural heritage. To be successful, nature-tourism experiences should provide quality opportunities to engage the public with natural resources in ways that lead to greater understanding and appreciation, while protecting and preserving the wildlife populations they are viewing.

Response:

The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Outreach Program offered professional development programs and certification opportunities for nature-based tourism businesses.  The Coastal Nature Guide Certification Program helped nature-tourism professionals build and enhance the skills needed to adopt and promote sustainable wildlife viewing practices that help preserve healthy and resilient coasts along the Gulf of Mexico. The Certified Fishers Invested in Sustainable Harvest (CFISH) program, which was based on the Coastal Nature Guide Program, provided training on the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico, sustainable fishing practices, applicable resource laws and regulations, promotion of good stewardship practices, and responsible advertising.

Results:

Six coastal nature guides and 24 captains and deckhands in Alabama received professional development training and received certification through the Coastal Nature Guide Certification and Certified Fishers Invested in Sustainable Harvest (CFISH) programs. These individuals are now better prepared to incorporate stewardship principles and practices into their tours and business operations.

Recap:

Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant nature tourism specialists provided professional development training and certification to nature guides and charter fishermen to enhance stewardship of coastal resources. (2014)

Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant legal research informs judicial analysis

Relevance:

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that private property may not be taken for public use without just compensation. In 1922, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a regulation that goes “too far” amounts to a taking. Federal and state courts have been struggling to figure out when a regulation goes “too far” for the past 80 years. Takings claims involving the regulation of coastal property have proven particularly challenging for courts due to the intersection of private and public rights in the coastal zone. Because the law in this area is complex and evolving, state and local governments are reluctant to enact new laws and regulations to address ongoing and emerging coastal hazards, which increases the risk of future environmental and social harm.

Response:

In 2010, the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Legal Program and project partners Florida Sea Grant, Louisiana Sea Grant Law and Policy Program, Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, and Texas Wesleyan School of Law launched a new legal research and outreach project on the impact of the “regulatory takings” doctrine on the ability of local governments to implement sea level rise adaptation policies. This work was funded by the Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant Programs, the Environmental Protection Agency Gulf of Mexico Program and the Northern Gulf Institute. The project team conducted in-depth legal research on a range of legal issues and produced five law review articles that were published in the Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law.

Results:

The project team’s research is informing the legal debate regarding the impact of the takings doctrine on state and local coastal management decisions. In a high-profile Texas regulatory takings case, Severance v. Patterson, involving the Texas Open Beaches Act, a dissenting judge cited one of the project team’s law review articles seven times to support his argument that the majority was not adequately considering the potential environmental impact of its ruling.

Recap:

The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Legal Program and project partners conducted legal research on the impact of the regulatory takings doctrine that informed the legal debate regarding the Texas Open Beaches Act. (2014)

Gulf Shores, Alabama, adopts overlay zone to encourage establishment of waterway village

Relevance:

Gulf Shores, Alabama, has experienced significant challenges in recent years, including damaging hurricanes and oil spill impacts to its beaches. Gulf Shores recognizes the critical need to diversify its economy and encourage development and investment away from the popular Gulf Coast beaches. In 2010, the Gulf Shores City Planner attended a Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant outreach workshop on planning techniques to preserve and enhance working waterfronts. Following the workshop, the Gulf Shores Planning and Zoning Department began exploring the creation of a waterfront development plan on the Intracoastal Waterway. As with any new planning initiative, a number of legal and regulatory questions had to be addressed before the City’s vision could be implemented.

Response:

At the request of Gulf Shores, the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Outreach Program and its legal specialists conducted research on ways to encourage the return of water-dependent businesses along the Intracoastal Waterway. Specifically, the research focused on two key components of Gulf Shore’s development plan:  establishment of a seafood market/exchange and the creation of a pedestrian greenway along the waterfront. MASGC legal specialists identified regulations for seafood markets and exchanges and potential issues and challenges with getting them started. They also researched issues associated with creating a pedestrian pathway, and provided examples of language used in other cities to address working waterfronts in local policies.

Results:

As a result of this partnership, Gulf Shores became the first community in Alabama to adopt a local ordinance to preserve waterfront heritage. In 2012, the Gulf Shores Planning and Zoning Commission approved a historic downtown overlay district called the “Waterway Village.” The Waterway Village District Overlay defines working waterfronts within the district and includes specific language that protects, preserves and advances the traditional culture of working waterfronts. This new overlay zone will allow for the re-establishment of certain types of water-dependent businesses that historically were part of the waterfront.

Recap:

With legal research and outreach support from Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant, Gulf Shores, Alabama, adopted an overlay zone to increase access to and encourage re-establishment of water-dependent businesses on the Intracoastal Waterway. (2014)