Gulf Stream September-October 2013 - Gulf of Mexico Foundation

Foundation News

GMF Releases Documentary on Platforms as Artificial Reefs
PBS affiliate airs film

While constructed for an entirely different purpose, the scores of oil and gas structures found in the Gulf of Mexico have an unintended benefit. As industry workers toil above, below the water's surface corals begin to colonize the hard surfaces almost as soon as the platforms are placed on the ocean floor. Other sea creatures soon follow and a diverse and vibrant ecological community takes hold. These artificial reefs yield a rich habitat resource that benefits fisheries, providing some of the most popular recreational fishing spots in the Gulf. Rigs to Reefs: Towers of Life explores the hot topic of artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and the constant battle to balance the ecology and economy of our Gulf resources. This 26-minute documentary illustrates the beauty and abundance of life on rig structures while bringing to light the need for collaborative research, partnerships, and educational programs to discuss and communicate the living resources provided by artificial reefs. Scientists, managers, and teachers alike come together to investigate what needs to be done for the future of these living platforms. Rigs to Reefs has aired on PBS stations and can be viewed online on the GMF website.


Education & Training

US and Mexican Experts Find Common Interests in Sea-level Rise Work
Training as a means to integrating efforts

Drs. Jorge Euan (left) and Victor Vidal led the team from CINVESTAV, the Foundation's gracious hosts and partners in the Merida meeting.

A diverse and esteemed group of experts convened the International Integration Workshop on Sea-Level Rise in Merida, Yucatan. Focused on sea level rise as it affects coastal habitat and communities, this was a working meeting with an innovative approach. Thirty eight researchers, restoration practitioners, government officials, modelers, and civil protection experts from both countries brought forth specific needs, issues, and capacities, applied assessment technologies in a training exercise, and then identified specific opportunities for collaboration on transboundary projects. Eric Gustafson, Director of The Gulf of Mexico Foundation – Mexico Affiliate consulted with partners from both sides of the border to identify and target key players. Early conversations with Mexican partners revealed a key need to be addressed during the workshop: training on the technology of sea level rise (SLR) assessment. CINVESTAV, a high-level research institute located in Merida, had some experience using the SLAMM model which the Foundation has used around the Northern Gulf. Partners quickly agreed that sharing assessment techniques and data standards was fertile ground for collaboration. The Foundation hired Warren Pinnacle Consulting, the Foundation's go-to specialist for SLR modeling, to conduct a full day of hands-on, applied training. On the final day, participants identified potential projects to work on together. The event exceeded expectations with organizers and participants alike coming away energized and ready to advance the work outlined over the three days. The next workshop in the series, focused on Regional Sediment Management (RSM), is expected to occur in Spring 2014 in Mexico City with UNIDO's Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem Project hosting. The Gulf of Mexico Foundation initiated its International Integration Project in 2010, bringing key stakeholders together in Veracruz, Mexico aiming to develop a collaborative, binational communication network to identify and address important issues affecting coastal habitat and communities in the Gulf of Mexico. The two subjects now being addressed were prioritized and the group resolved to progress the collaboration through a series of technical workshops. Funding from the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program made the workshops possible. For more information contact Eric Gustafson.


Conservation & Restoration

Restoring Coral Reefs In Puerto Rico
Innovative techniques employed

Floating underwater coral array with large Staghorn coral colonies that were transplanted to Margarita Reef.

Corals in the Caribbean had declined such as to merit threatened species classification due to serious challenges both natural processes as well as human activities. Many reefs have been impacted by storms, disease, coral bleaching, and predators as well as marine vessel groundings, coastal development, and habitat degradation. A GMF partner, HJR Reefscaping, is employing innovative techniques to address that unfavorable trend in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. Using in-situ nursery techniques known as the floating underwater coral array (FUCA), the goal is to maintain, expand, and plant coral nurseries that enhance local populations of corals. Placing the FUCAs at various sites and seeding them with coral fragments – some from the nurseries and others from natural sources – to produce new colonies. Volunteers are directly involved with the construction and maintenance of the nurseries. An educational video has helped to attract more volunteers and to increase public awareness of coral restoration efforts. Watch it here to learn more about the status of coral reefs in the area and to see some beautiful underwater video from the Caribbean. The project was one of three Gulf of Mexico Community-Based Restoration Partnership that the GMF was able to allocate additional funding to this year. The expansion will allow the addition of two new sites at San Cristóbal Key, Lajas and Coral Key, Guánica and is expected to yield an additional 1,600 coral colonies.


Making A Difference

White Table Cloth Meets White Boots At Gulf of Mexico Foundation Conference
From Ed Lallo of Newsroom Ink

Quenton Dokken, GMF President/CEO, sees these meetings as opportunities for fishermen to hear from chefs what they need to provide so customers get the highest quality product. Photo: Ed Lallo/Newsroom Ink

Sitting around a u-shaped conference table at the historic Hotel Gavez on Galveston Island, Top Chef Texas winner Chef Paul Qui joined 11 other Gulf chefs and a dozen other seafood industry leaders to quiz and question a local fisherman on how better communications could be established between the water and the plate. Buddy Guindon, owner of Katie’s Fish and a board member of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders Alliance, calmly and methodically answered all questions hurled his way. The Gulf of Mexico Foundation sponsored the special event funded by a grant from Sysco Louisiana Seafoods.


Gulf of Mexico Foundation

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