Under an award from the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program, the Gulf of Mexico Foundation sponsored the International Integration Workshop on Sea-Level Rise in Merida, Yucatan from October 21 – 23, 2013. The International Integration project was conceived to support the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Habitat Conservation and Restoration Team’s (HCRT) Expanded Partnerships action item. The project was implemented to develop a collaborative, bi-national communication network to address important issues affecting coastal habitat and communities in the Gulf of Mexico. Two technical subjects were prioritized in the first International Integration workshop, held in November of 2011, and workshops focused on those two areas were planned to elicit specific needs, capacities, and opportunities for collaboration in each arena.
The Foundation worked with the HCRT Steering Committee, members of the HCRT Technology Development Subcommittee, and partners from both sides of the border to develop the workshop agenda and a diverse but targeted participant list. CINVESTAV, a Mexican research institute, served as the local host partner, contributing invaluable expertise and logistical support. HCRT State Lead Just Cebrian, representing Alabama, and Technology Development Subcommittee member Kristin Demarco, along with GMF’s Mike Smith, HCRT Coordinator, represented the HCRT. Panelists from Mexico and the US included researchers, restoration practitioners, government officials, modelers, and civil protection experts to promote a diversity of viewpoints. A sequence of interactive panels on SLR impacts, restoration in the face of SLR, protection, measurement/adaptation, and SLR assessment techniques on Day 1 set the tone for a day-long applied training session utilizing the Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM). On the final day, participants identified potential projects for bi-national collaboration and began discussion of the next workshop which will focus on Regional Sediment Management (RSM).
The RSM workshop is currently expected to occur in Spring 2014 and would be held in Mexico City wiith UNIDO’s Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem Project hosting. Contact Mike Smith, Gulf of Mexico Foundation and HCRT Coordinator, for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.