MASGC Project Impacts

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)

Volunteers grow oysters for reef restoration

Relevance:

The Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program in Alabama is volunteer-based project that focuses on education, restoration/enhancement and research by bringing the reef to the people. Now in its twelfth year of operation, the oyster gardening program has produced nearly 750,000 oysters for restoration and enhancement efforts within Mobile Bay. 

Response:

Volunteers around Mobile Bay grow juvenile oysters from their wharves to be planted on restoration sites in Mobile Bay and the Mississippi Sound. In 2015, volunteers from 35 sites successfully grew and planted 43,571 oysters with a mean height of 53.5mm.

Results:

The oysters planted by volunteers in 2015 were sufficient to restore 2.15 acres of reef with an economic value estimated at $41,464.88.

Recap:

Volunteer oyster gardening citizen scientists, in partnership with MASGC Extension, restored up to 2.15 acres of oyster reef with a value of $41,464.88. (2015)

Trawl gear programming reduces operation costs of Gulf of Mexico shrimpers

Relevance:

Diesel engines power the majority of fishing vessels in the United States, and diesel fuel is the largest component of operating costs on Gulf shrimp vessels. To survive, shrimpers need to increase fuel efficiency to decrease operational costs.

Response:

The use of energy-efficient trawl gear with less drag can reduce fuel costs. The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium (MASGC) conducted field research and documented the fuel savings and catch retention associated with available energy-efficient trawl gear and more efficient turtle excluder/bycatch reduction devices. To inform decision-making, MASGC shared the results with fishermen through gear demonstrations at dockside visits and as part of other outreach efforts. Vietnamese-Americans with limited English language skills own and operate a large percentage of the offshore fishing fleet in the northern Gulf. An MASGC staff member used his Vietnamese language skills to reach this underserved clientele group.

Results:

Over 20 shrimp vessels have adopted the use of energy-efficient trawl gear. All reported fuel savings similar to the field trials, and most have continued to use the gear. Based on conservative estimates of fuel savings (1.5 gallons per hour, a 12-hour fishing day, 180 days per year and fuel cost of $3 per gallon), each vessel is saving about $10,000 a year in operating costs. Cost savings continue to accrue and are greater with rising fuel costs. Total savings to the fleet has topped $1 million since the program’s inception.

Recap:

MASGC programming leads Gulf shrimp fishermen to adopt energy-efficient trawl gear and save over $1 million in operating costs. (2014)