MASGC Project Impacts

Trawl gear programming reduces Gulf of Mexico shrimpers’ operational costs

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 of energy-efficient trawl gear and save over $1 million in operating costs. (2013)

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

Relevance:

When impervious cover within a watershed exceeds 25 percent, the chance to pursue meaningful stream restoration is greatly diminished. Currently, impervious cover within D'Olive Watershed ranges from 20-25 percent. Assuming 100-percent build-out by 2020, impervious cover could approach 38 percent, according to the D'Olive Watershed Management Plan. 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 effort to restore 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:

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. (2013)

Restoration of more than 2,500 coastal acres benefits fish, shellfish and residents

Relevance:

An outdated flood-control structure in New Orleans and logging roads in Apalachicola, Florida, impaired the natural movement of water. In New Orleans, the flood-control gate prevented the natural flow of water and movement of fish between Lake Pontchartrain and the area behind the gate. It also prevented people from catching recreationally important fish in City Park and made it impossible to travel via water (kayak, canoe, etc.) between the park and Lake Pontchartrain. In a rural coastal area of Florida, the improper design of dirt roads caused Apalachicola Bay to have rapidly changing salinity levels after rainfall events, which adversely impacted important fish and shellfish species.

Response:

Through a community-based NOAA Restoration Center partnership with the four Sea Grant College Programs in the Gulf of Mexico, the Orleans Levee District received funding to remove a large concrete barrier in New Orleans, and the Northwest Florida Water Management District received funding to install 10 low-water crossings, 15 culvert modifications and 24 ditch plugs in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River system.

Results:

Two restoration projects restored natural flow or sheet flow, as well as more than 4 miles of passage and 2,560 coastal acres. The projects directly benefited 13 freshwater and 20 saltwater fish species. In addition, the projects provided enhanced recreational opportunities, such as fishing for additional fish species and accessing more waterways via kayak and canoe.

Recap:

Two restoration projects restored more than 2,560 coastal acres to a more natural state, which benefited fish and shellfish and allowed people to enjoy additional nature-based recreational opportunities. 2013.

New regulation makes Biloxi more resilient to storms, flooding and sea-level rise

Relevance:

Cities located along the Gulf of Mexico are at risk of environment, economic and societal impacts from rising sea levels and storm surges. Proactive long-term planning is essential to minimizing community damage from these climate change impacts.

Response:

Working with the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, the Mississippi city of Biloxi identified potential risks to its citizens and property from sea-level rise and storms. A climate team, made up of the city's floodplain manager, emergency manager, Community Rating System coordinator, stormwater management coordinator and Sea Grant's coastal storms outreach coordinator, developed a plan to share climate information and risks with the public and city officials to increase awareness of these risks.

Results:

Because of the climate team’s work, the City of Biloxi has 1) amended its Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance to require 1 foot of freeboard above base flood elevation for new construction, which will reduce damage to citizens and their property as a result of projected sea-level rise and increased storm surge; 2) adopted a comprehensive Stormwater Management Ordinance in an effort to minimize flooding from climate change impacts; and 3) included sea-level rise in its updated hazard mitigation plan, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved. As a result of these actions, Biloxi is better prepared to adapt to projected climate change impacts.

Recap:

The formation of a climate team, facilitated by MASGC, for the City of Biloxi, resulted in three city actions that have reduced the risk of sea-level rise and storms to its citizens.