Building Partnerships for a Healthier Gulf

August 2015

New Initiative: Marine Debris & Trash Free Waters
Gulf of Mexico Alliance Action Plan III will tackle this messy problem.
Large scale marine debris is often an issue that plagues many coastal communities. Without the resources to address them, environmental and navigation hazards often persist for years. Even when assistance is available, it may not be enough or items may be inadvertently overlooked. With coordinated efforts, success stories can happen.  
On July 26, 2015, a large sunken petroleum tank was removed from the Breton Sound Marina Channel in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. It had lingered there as a result of Hurricane Katrina. A partnership of coordinated state, federal, and local response got the job done. NOAA and Louisiana CCA pushed the right buttons to engage Governors Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, FEMA, St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana Dept. of Natural Resources, USCG, USGS, and USACE to work with contractor Cuvilloin Group to remove the debris. This one success story was nearly ten years in the making. Many similar situations still linger across the coast without resolution. 

Natural disasters are not the only source of marine debris or aquatic trash. Some 80% is derived from land base garbage problems due to negligence and neglect. The Alliance has developed a new cross-team initiative to address this growing problem. Pulling interested parties and actions from all the Teams, the marine debris cross-team initiative will focus on key actions that address research, removal, and proactive measures for prevention of these unwanted materials. 
Helping to lead the initiative is NOAA's regional Marine Debris Program and EPA's Trash Free Waters Program. Both federal organizations have well-developed plans and resources in place. To get involved with this initiative, contact the Alliance for more information. 
Alliance Updates
Action Plan III, DWH Project Tracker, and All Hands notes

For those of you needing a little reference material, the Gulf of Mexico Alliance 2015 All Hands Team Notes are now available on the website. Check out the new Meeting Materials webpage. We want you to be able to sleep at night.

We want to keep you updated on the progress of Action Plan III. All the draft chapters are in. Team leadership should be reviewing the full draft the first weeks of September. Stay up to date with the progress by contacting one of the Team Coordinators.   

The DWH Project Tracker has been updated with 57 funded projects from the National Academy of Sciences Gulf Restoration Program, NRDA Phase III, and one NFWF project.

NOAA's Office of Education Releases Strategic Plan
The plan advances NOAA's mission through mandated education.

NOAA's Office of Education released the 2015 - 2035 NOAA Education Strategic Plan: Advancing NOAA's Mission through Education. In a truly collaborative fashion, NOAA educators, staff, and leadership combined efforts with the broader education and resource management community, nongovernmental organizations, teachers, and interested citizens to produce the document. 
The plan's focus is to advance NOAA's mission of science, service, and stewardship through education. The America COMPETES Act provides the broad authority for science education. NOAA's Office of Education has five goals that are structured on: science-informed society; conservation and stewardship; safety and preparedness; future workforce; and organizational excellence. Get your copy today.

Check out September events on our website. Send in your workshops, trainings, meetings, conferences, and other notable activities for inclusion on our events page.

The Regional Coastal Training Program will be holding additional Blue Carbon Workshops. These workshops, "A management tool for the conservation and restoration of coastal wetlands," are planned for Mississippi (Sept. 10), Florida (Oct. 22), and Texas (Nov. 5). Regional CTP workshops can be found on their website.    


September 19th kicks off Restore America's Estuaries National Estuaries Week. This often coincides with activities associated with the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup. Join a fall Coastal Cleanup near you.


September 19  Alabama Coastal Cleanup
September 26  Texas Coastwide Cleanup
October 17  Mississippi Coastal Cleanup  

Locate clean up sites in Florida and Louisiana with Ocean Conservancy's map.  

RestorationUpdatesRestoration Updates
On July 2, 2015, BP Plc announced an agreement in principle to settle the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. Much legal work is ahead to complete the settlement. A selection of online news stories is available on the DWH Project Tracker website.    
RESTORE Council        
The RESTORE Council has released the Draft Funded Priorities List (FPL). Public comment is solicited through September 28, 2015 and information to participate is listed below. Draft priorities were selected from the Council-Selected Restoration Component. Selections are available for review on  

Alabama The Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council information and updates can be accessed here. The AGCRC is currently on hold making decisions pending additional guidance from federal officials.  
Mississippi Read about Mississippi's involvement in the RESTORE Council draft FPL here. For information on restoration activities in Mississippi go to Making Mississippi Whole.
Florida The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) maintains a website complete with latest updates, resources, links, and newsletters, including an overview of Florida's response to the oil spill. Each impacted county engages directly with their communities through the Gulf Consortium and the Florida Association of Counties. The Consortium has a meeting planned for November 18; see their website for more information.  Many Florida counties have their own web pages or sites.The Escambia County RESTORE Project Portal is open for submissions and will close September 30, 2015.  
Louisiana The State of Louisiana is represented by the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) on state and RESTORE Council restoration activities. View all news, activities and calendar notices on the CPRA website.  
Texas In August, Texas released Conserve, Restore, Renew: Framework for Implementing the RESTORE Act on the Texas Gulf Coast. A series of listening sessions are planned to allow for public comment on the priorities outlined in the plan. Go to RESTORE The Texas Coast for times and locations to comment. It is the official web location for oil spill related restoration in Texas. 
Centers of Excellence
Texas: The two centers are Texas OneGulf at Texas A&M Corpus Christi and the Subsea Systems Institute at the University of Houston.

: The Centers of Excellence Research Grant Program announced the first awards for Gulf research on August 21st. The Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) is responsible for Florida's Center of Excellence.

Alabama: The The Dauphin Island Sea Lab submission is pending AGCRC decision.   

NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program
Information related to the NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program can be found here. The Science Plan Final Version is available. They are currently reviewing proposals submitted under their recent proposal solicitation. 
National Academy of Sciences' Gulf Research Program (NAS)
To follow the NAS Gulf Research Program and register for updates, go to their website. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship Program is open. Applications are due
September 9, 2015.

Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA)

The Trustees recently proposed ten early restoration projects as part of Phase IV. Public comment closed on July 6 and the official project list is pending. More in
formation about NRDA can be found     
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund
NFWF maintains a website for its Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund.   
North American Conservation Wetlands Act Fund (NAWCA) 
The US Fish and Wildlife Service maintains a website for NAWCA programs. The U.S. Small Grants program is also open and closes November 5, 2015.
Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) 
The GoMRI announced the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference will be February 1-4, 2016 at the Marriott Tampa Waterside, Tampa, Florida. Registration is open. Abstracts are being accepted through September 18, 2015.  Learn more about GoMRI and their research.  

FundingOpportunitiesFunding Opportunities

For a complete list of funding opportunities see our new webpage. Selected opportunities: 
Melinda Gray Ardia Environmental Foundation Grants - To "develop or implement environmental curricula that integrate hands-on ecology exercises into the classroom." The preproposal deadline is September 13, 2015.
EPA Gulf of Mexico Program Regional Partnerships Request for Proposals -- Cooperative agreements may address water quality improvement; coastal habitat and ecosystems enhancement, restoration and/or protection; environmental education and outreach; and strengthen community resilience in the Gulf of Mexico region and its watersheds. The deadline is September 15, 2015.  
NOAA Marine Fisheries Initiative (MARFIN) for research and development projects that optimize the use of fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and other locations. The deadline is October 2, 2015.

NOAA/NWS Collaborative Science, Technology, and Applied Research (CSTAR) Program Grant - To create a cost-effective transition from basic and applied research to operations and services through collaborative research between operational forecasters and academic institutions which have expertise in the environmental sciences." The application deadline is October 30, 2015.

American Honda Foundation - Grant making that supports youth education with a specific focus on the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects in addition to the environment. The application deadline is November 1, 2015.
NOAA Marine Debris Program FY2016 Community-based Marine Debris Removal FFO - Projects awarded through this grant competition will implement effective, on-the-ground marine debris removal activities, with priority for those targeting medium to large-scale debris, including derelict fishing gear. The application deadline is November 2, 2015.
NAWCA Grants Program - Migratory Bird Conservation Commission approved funding.
US Small Grants deadline is November 5, 2015.  

CommentPeriodsOpen Comment Periods

The Texas Sea Grant College Program will be reviewed on September 16 and 17, 2015, by a team convened by the National Sea Grant College Program. The public is invited to participate in the review by submitting comments about the Program by September 9, 2015, to Please include "Texas Sea Grant site review" in the comment line.

The Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice is asking for public comment on the draft FY 2016-2018 Action Agenda Framework. The Framework is the EJ IWG's three year strategic plan to advance environmental justice. Review the plan and submit comments here. The deadline is September 25, 2015.

belowThe Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council released the draft Initial Funded Priorities List (draft FPL). The Public is encouraged to provide comments online, by mail to Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. Attention: Draft FPL Comments, Hale Boggs Federal Building, 500 Poydras Street, Suite 1117, New Orleans, LA 70130; email to; or in person during formal public comment periods at any of the public meetings. The deadline to comment is September 28, 2015

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), propose regulations to amend the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) to implement the Endangered Species Act (ESA) regarding experimental populations. The amendment would establish definitions and procedures for: establishing and/or designating certain populations of species otherwise listed as endangered or threatened as experimental populations among others. The deadline to comment is October 2, 2015

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has submitted Amendment 15 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico for review, approval, and implementation by NMFS. Amendment 15 includes actions to revise the maximum sustainable yield, overfishing threshold, and overfished threshold definitions and values for three species of penaeid shrimp, and to revise the framework procedures. The comment deadline is October 13, 2015

NMFS, announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list the smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena) range-wide or, in the alternative, any identified distinct population segments (DPSs), as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and to designate critical habitat. To ensure that the status review is comprehensive, they are soliciting scientific and commercial information pertaining to this species from any interested party. The deadline is October 13, 2015.
Endangered and Threatened Species: 90-Day Findings on 31 Petitions - the US Fish and Wildlife Service announces the findings on various petitions to list or reclassify species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Scientific and commercial data is requested to ensure comprehensive reviews. For more information go here. The deadline is August 31, 2015.
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