To support efforts to protect fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued awards totaling of $16.7 million from NOAA's RESTORE Act Science Program. This year, the awardees’ proposed projects support research into bluefin tuna, blue crabs, Mississippi oyster farmers and other parts of the Gulf ecosystem.
“These awards highlight the vital role NOAA plays in the Gulf of Mexico," said Secretary Ross. “The fisheries which will be studied through the RESTORE Science Program are critical to local economies along the Gulf.”
The RESTORE Act authorized NOAA to establish and administer the RESTORE Act Science Program which funds programs assisting research monitoring Gulf’s recovery and protecting the long-term sustainability of local fisheries to ensure that American jobs are secure far into the future.
Awards will go to researchers and resource managers from 37 institutions including universities, federal and state agencies, and non-governmental organizations. A list of the fifteen awarded projects and their organizations can be found here. The competition focused on living coastal and marine resources and their habitats in the Gulf of Mexico.
“The overwhelming response to our call and the number of strong proposals we received, shows we can meet the science needs of the Gulf by partnering and funding local and regional research," said W. Russell Callender, Ph.D., assistant NOAA administrator for the National Ocean Service. “We look forward to continuing to tap into this expertise with future competitions.”
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was pleased to work with our counterparts in NOAA on this round of funding awards under the RESTORE Act Science Program," said Kevin Reynolds, Ph.D., Case Manager for the Department of Interior Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration. “The cooperative spirit between our agencies ensured a focus on science that will meaningfully benefit the management of our trust resources and improve our understanding of the Gulf ecosystem. We look forward to future collaborations with NOAA on the administration of this program."
“We spoke with Gulf resource managers and asked what they needed to make decisions on sustaining and restoring living coastal and marine resources in the region,” said Julien Lartigue, Ph.D., director of the NOAA RESTORE Science Program. “These projects will have a measurable effect on our understanding of finfish, shellfish and other important species in the Gulf.”
Of the 15 projects, 13 are being led by institutions located in the Gulf of Mexico region. In total, 78 researchers and resource managers will be involved, with 58 of them located in the region. The awards range from $231,671 to $2,312,275. These projects were selected following a rigorous and highly competitive process, which included a review by a panel of outside experts.