Nearly 300 individuals representing more than 100 organizations and agencies recently participated in workshops for the Gulf of Mexico Research Plan (GMRP).
The GMRP effort held five workshops to identify and prioritize research needs for the region. Workshops were held in Galveston, Texas; Baton Rouge, La.; Biloxi, Miss.; Spanish Fort, Ala.; and St. Petersburg, Fla., and focused on identifying research priorities within the theme areas defined in the Ocean Research Priorities Plan. The themes are Improving Ecosystem Health, Stewardship of Natural and Cultural Ocean Resources, The Ocean’s Role in Climate, Increasing Resilience to Natural Hazards, Enabling Marine Operations and Enhancing Human Health.
Each workshop participants joined one of the themed breakout sessions that were held at each workshop. Numerous high-priority research topics (267 topics) were identified at the five workshops. In addition, participants identified 251 information needs or other priority topics related to policy, management and education.
The National Sea Grant Program and the four state Sea Grant College Programs (Mississippi-Alabama, Texas, Louisiana and Florida) sponsored the workshops. NOAA’s Gulf Coast Services Center provided substantial workshop planning and facilitation support. State, federal and university entities (U.S. Geological Survey, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Mississippi State University, Louisiana State University and NOAA Fisheries Lab, Galveston) hosted the workshops.
Draft workshop reports from each event are being circulated. Once they are finalized, they will be available on the GMRP Web site (masgc.org/gmrp). The data collected from the workshops and the 1,200 survey responses and 117 strategic plans collected to date will be analyzed in order to develop a strategic plan that addresses the top regional research priorities. This plan will be available to all organizations and groups that conduct research or use research results in the Gulf of Mexico. After the strategic plan is developed an implementation plan will be developed to enable efficient and effective approaches to address the top regional research priorities.