The Florida Sea Grant College Program supports research and education activities that help Florida’s shoreline communities, industries and citizens wisely use the state’s coastal and marine resources.
If you or your organization needs Sea Grant assistance, you will most likely find help through the state network of marine extension agents and specialists that form the Sea Grant Extension Program, a component of the Florida Cooperative Extension Service.
What product or service does Sea Grant Extension provide?
The Sea Grant Extension Program provides factual, science-based data and technical assistance from academic research conducted by a partnership of Florida’s universities, marine labs, and NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Who do I contact?
Many coastal communities have a member of the Sea Grant extension service based in their IFAS county Extension office. Other communities can draw upon the Sea Grant network of expertise and service through the program’s statewide headquarters at the University of Florida ( http://www.flseagrant.org).
What areas or issues can Sea Grant research and extension address?
These examples illustrate how Sea Grant provides science and technical expertise to serve Florida’s coasts:
1. Economic valuation of coastal projects and resources: giving communities access to information that strengthens policy making and prospects for future funding.
- Sea Grant has recently conducted a six-county socio-economic analysis of artificial reefs to determine if the reefs provide a net economic benefit to the local economy, are being implemented at a “reasonable” cost, and if the benefits exceed those costs.
- A survey of the economic costs of red tide events in Florida now provides cities and counties responsible for public beach management with a useful baseline for estimating red tide-related budget needs.
- An economic assessment of the state’s hard clam aquaculture industry quantified the sizeable contribution the industry makes to Florida and to the local economies where the production and marketing activities occur, encouraging enhancements to coastal water quality and stimulating efforts to increase production efficiency.
- The economic impact study of a youth fishing tournament in Charlotte County demonstrated that the tournament had a positive impact in the county, which encouraged sustained sponsor support and additional grant funding.
2. Comprehensive planning assistance for waterway and waterfront management: sustainable tools to balance navigation projects and other human uses of marine resources with environmental resource protection.
- Novel survey methods map recreational boating populations and their activities at the county level, so communities can prioritize navigation channel maintenance, and plan for boater access, manatee management, and safe navigation.
- Extension faculty have developed a decision-making framework to facilitate growth management beyond the water’s edge, providing methods to evaluate current infrastructure, the potential for expansion, site suitability for anchorages, managed moorings, marinas and ramps; and manatee protection.
- Expert legal review of existing federal, state and local regulations helps ensure compliance of comprehensive plans, and evaluation of preferred regulatory approaches and taxation strategies.
3. Advanced technical training for marine resource managers
- Fisheries -- Workshops provide rangers, resource managers and marine educators with improved knowledge and understanding of marine fisheries management, rule process, agencies involved, responsibilities and management tools.
- GIS Training for Marine Spatial Planning -- Workshops provide municipal staff and agency professionals with practical, hands-on instruction in the use of a geographic information system (GIS) to guide growth and development processes.
- Artificial Reefs -- Many of Sea Grant’s coastal county-based extension faculty assist local artificial reef programs by providing technical information that can improve the productivity and management of these reefs.
4. Providing K-12 schools and teachers with curriculum, training and hands-on exposure
- Camps and workshops provide educators with curriculum, classroom activities and field experiences in marine habitats.
5. Educational products for the boating public
- With information collected from extensive mail surveys, as well as expert content developed from knowledgeable faculty, Sea Grant develops boating, angling and waterways guides geared to specialized issues and needs of local boating communities.
6. Facilitating Clean Marina designation for municipal marinas
- Technical assistance and courtesy site evaluations are offered to marina facilities to assist with implementation of best management practices towards achieving a Clean Marina designation.
7. Advising citizen-based volunteer efforts:
- Clearing Waters of Marine Debris – Technicalassistance and training provide stewardship opportunities for citizens to reduce entanglement of marine organisms and navigation hazards through monofilament recovery and recycling programs, shoreline and artificial reef cleanups and derelict trap removal events.
- Monitoring and Restoration of Natural Resources – Experiential training opportunities provide citizens with opportunities to participate in the research and/or management of fish stocks, bay scallops, oysters, mangroves, water, and other coastal natural resources.
8. Educating citizens and staff about the natural environment
- Training opportunities through the Florida Master Naturalist Program provide participants with both classroom activities and field experiences with hands-on exposure to marine habitats. Training can be tailored to provide CEUs.
9. Neutral facilitation for resolution of resource-based issues
- Extension faculty can facilitate group processes and meetings to improve communication, streamline planning, reduce user conflicts, build consensus and further devolop strategies and action plans to address natural resource conflict.