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The parasite, known as shrimp Black Gill (sBG), has been troubling Georgia shrimpers for years.

Georgia Sea Grant awards over $800,000 in funding toward coastal research

The research projects will focus on environmental and economic issues that directly affect Georgia coastal stakeholders.

Writer: Lee Redding, leeredd@uga.edu

Contact: Mark Risse, 706-542-5956, mrisse@uga.edu

Athens, Ga. – The Georgia Sea Grant College Program at the University of Georgia announced funding for the latest round of innovative, competitive research projects that address critical environmental and economic challenges in coastal Georgia. Funding for Georgia Sea Grant research comes from the NOAA National Sea Grant College Program.

The diverse projects include investigations into plastic contamination in coastal waterways, a parasitic threat affecting Georgia shrimp and the economic feasibility of raising homes to reduce the impact of flooding.

The seven new awards, totaling $815,736, mark a 15-percent increase in Georgia Sea Grant’s research investments in natural and social sciences. In order to address the wide range of topics identified as priorities by coastal stakeholders, the program has dedicated a greater proportion of its overall budget toward research for this funding cycle.

“I am pleased to see the quality and breadth of our research portfolio that spans a spectrum of disciplines, from the fundamental understanding of coastal processes to the economic analysis of retrofitting homes in coastal Georgia,” said Mark Risse, director of Marine Extension/Georgia Sea Grant, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach. “Enabling university-based research to develop solutions for the unmet needs of Georgia’s coast, and linking that research to economic development, is a major focus of the Georgia Sea Grant College Program.”

One such project, led by Skidaway Institute of Oceanography professor Marc Frischer, is a continuing investigation into black gill, a condition threatening Georgia’s top fishery, shrimping. Georgia Sea Grant will also be funding University of Georgia associate professor Warren Kriesel of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences analyze the viability of elevating houses, an approach more and more homeowners and local governments are considering in order to combat flooding. Given recent flooding from Hurricane Joaquin and the Supermoon lunar tidal event, the research aims to give property owners strategies for protecting their homes and businesses from incurring flood damage, while bearing in mind the economic constraints that many homeowners face.

The seven projects are part of Georgia Sea Grant’s Request for Proposals (RFP) process, which occurs every two years to address research priorities identified by coastal stakeholders. The RFP is developed incorporating feedback from a coastal advisory board and then distributed statewide to institutions of higher education. The research projects that are selected for funding undergo a competitive merit review process: they are initially evaluated by a Georgia stakeholder review panel and are then ranked by an external technical science review committee to determine their scientific rigor, technical soundness and relevance to Georgia Sea Grant’s research priorities, which address current problems on the coast.

For FY2016-2018, the awards will begin on February 1, 2016 and will terminate on January 31, 2018.  Selected research projects and the lead investigators are:

  • Oyster and Salt Marsh Edge Interactions: Informing Living Shoreline and Oyster Restoration Design – James Byers, Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia
  • Black Gill in Georgia Shrimp: Causes and Consequences – Marc Frischer, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, University of Georgia
  • Assessing Prevalence and Composition of Ingested Plastic Contaminants by Georgia’s Estuarine Organisms – Jay Brandes, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, University of Georgia
  • A Novel Hybrid Approach for Mapping Belowground Productivity and Carbon Sequestration Potential within Georgia Salt Marshes – Deepak Mishra, Department of Geography, University of Georgia
  • Investigation of the Shallow Hydrogeologic System on St. Catherine’s Island to Define Salt Water Intrusion Pathways and the Potential for Shallow-Deep Aquifer Communication – Robert Vance, Department of Geology, Georgia Southern University
  • Promoting Flood Hazard Resilience: The Economics of Elevation Retrofitting of Homes – Warren Kriesel, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of Georgia
  • A Geospatial Assessment of Nearshore Sand Resources and Sediment Transport Pathways for Georgia Coastal Resiliency and Recovery – Clark Alexander, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, University of Georgia

The Georgia Sea Grant College Program
The Georgia Sea Grant College Program is a unique partnership that unites the resources of the federal government, the state of Georgia and universities across the state to create knowledge, tools, products and services that benefit the economy, the environment and the citizens of Georgia. It is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is one of 33 university-based Sea Grant Programs around the country. Georgia Sea Grant, along with its partner, the University of Georgia Marine Extension, are units of the Office of Public Service and Outreach at the University of Georgia. The programs’ mission is to improve public resource policy, encourage far-sighted economic and fisheries decisions, anticipate vulnerabilities to change and educate citizens to be wise stewards of the coastal environment. For more information, visit http://georgiaseagrant.uga.edu.