Each year the Gulf of Mexico Alliance is pleased to host our partners at our annual All Hands Meeting. While the Alliance provides a unique networking opportunity, the true progress is made in the Team and Cross-Team meetings. These sessions allow our members to take action on issues of importance to the Gulf. Here’s a rundown on some of the accomplishments this year.

Coastal Resilience
The Coastal Resilience Team hosted approximately 50 members over the course of a two-day session. Two highlights included the video, “Finding Common Ground” by Kevin McCaffrey, a documentary filmmaker, which was funded by Louisiana Sea Grant. A second was an overview by Dr. Jennifer Jurado, from Broward County, Florida, of her resilience projects.The Team identified two new actions during their discussions. They added a new tool (EESLR) to their Resilience Tool Box and the need to develop a document to describe basic urban form and design for coastal communities. They joined other GOMA Teams by designating funding for the new Support the Gulf campaign.The Coastal Resilience Team will have their next call on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Contact the Coordinators for more information.

Data and Monitoring
The Data and Monitoring Team hosted two panel discussions with state and regional representatives covering topics related to ongoing data and monitoring activities. Bringing state leads together on a panel, they discussed mapping and monitoring efforts throughout the five Gulf States. The Team also hosted a group of presenters to share their projects that were applicable to and supportive of the Team’s focus areas. Demonstrations included: the GOMA Portal, Florida’s Water-CAT and Terra-CAT, a Gulf of Mexico Data Portal Inventory, NCEI’s Bathymetry, Digital Elevation Model and Water Column Sonar data resources, ESRI’s Living Atlas, and the Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS). The remainder of the All Hands meeting time allowed the Data and Monitoring Team work groups to discuss needs, goals and next steps to continue moving forward with the Governors’ Action Plan III. The team was also able to discuss priorities and Gulf Star RFP development.

The Data and Monitoring Team will hold Quarterly Calls on:

June 2, 2017: 10 AM EST
September 1, 2017: 10 AM EST
December 1, 2017: 10 AM EST
March 2, 2018: 10AM EST

Please contact the Team’s Coordinator for more information.

Education and Engagement
The Education and Engagement Team devoted much of their time to three new working groups: Awareness, Priority Issue Team Support, and Education and Engagement Network. Their discussions included new actions that may be funded by the Gulf Star program. As the Team works to accomplish its action plan objectives, it intends to engage the other Priority Issue Teams more and support their need for education and engagement. In particular, a new partnership with the Coastal Resilience Team is in development. Members also discussed the possibility of supporting workforce development related to Alliance issues. More exploratory work needs to be conducted. The Team enjoyed a brainstorming session for the Year of the Gulf campaign. They are looking forward to working on messaging and activities to develop and promote the Gulf. This Team has members that cross a spectrum of educational professionals from communicators, formal educators, and informal educators working with many different target audiences. They hope to be a resource to the other Teams.  To participate in this Team or one of the workgroups contact the Coordinator.

Marine Debris
The Marine Debris Cross-Team Initiative held its meeting in person and virtually via conference call. The Team’s goals are to assess, reduce, prevent, and eliminate marine debris and aquatic trash in the Gulf of Mexico and its watershed for the benefit of habitats, wildlife, and fisheries, humans, and the Gulf economy. The Alliance aims to address this global problem by coordinating on the local, state, and regional scale to alleviate negative impacts of marine debris.The Initiative had participation from all Teams and broke into three new working groups: prevention, removal, and research. The Education and Engagement Team funded five marine debris related Gulf Star projects in 2016. These organizations provided introductions to their projects and discussed ways to engage new partners as their projects proceed.The Initiative is planning a face to face meeting for later in the year. If you would like to be involved in this meeting or future conference calls, contact the Initiative’s lead.

Water Resources
The Water Resources Team completed a jam-packed and very productive two-day session. Discussions were held on current and future projects and exploring future opportunities. Updates were provided on 2016 Gulf Star awards and others led by our partners around the Gulf.The new Gulf-wide Awareness Campaign generated lots of excitement. Attendees provided state-specific events that might be good partnership opportunities and brainstormed key message ideas. Creating a broad, overarching campaign links well with the Team’s goals for improved water quality for the protection of human health.The Team also held a very successful Business and Industry Panel Discussion. The objective was to receive feedback and information from our industry representatives to help the Water Resources Team better understand and identify areas of common interest.  The key messages provided were (1) communication is the key and (2) that we need to seek out “industry ambassadors” that can help relay information between members of their industry and the Water Resources Team.  The Team is excited to begin working more closely with businesses and industries in the Gulf and will continue to build this relationship.

Wildlife and Fisheries
The Wildlife and Fisheries Team dove into their year in review and received updates from the 2016 Gulf Star funded projects. Those two projects are (1) downlisting endangered species project and (2) a demography and connectivity of sea turtles project. With updates, the Team began establishing the right network connections. Through a polling exercise, the Team narrowed its focus and used the new direction to building capacity for a selection of Tier II projects. This newer Alliance Team is working on initiatives to stay connected and looks forward to collaborating with other Teams on projects.