Marine safety training saves lives
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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)