The Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Seagrass Community of Practice (CoP) was created to support the management, research, restoration, and conservation of seagrasses in the GOM. The intent of the Seagrass CoP is to facilitate collaboration and coordination among seagrass experts and practitioners. The intent is to connect seagrass monitoring, mapping, research, and management efforts; share and leverage resources and information; and compile and implement best practices recommendations.

Seagrasses have been impacted by the degradation of coastal waters in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Current and past assessments of the health, stability, and well-being of the northern Gulf of Mexico supports the need for a comprehensive collection, collation, and update of existing seagrass data. The seagrass research and management community has long recognized a need for comparable monitoring and health assessment data across the Gulf of Mexico. To meet this need, the Seagrass CoP has the following goals and objectives.

Goals

  • Facilitate information exchange and maximize collaboration potential by providing a mechanism for connecting experts and practitioners throughout the Gulf of Mexico. This includes a broadcast email address and a spreadsheet of contacts with affiliations, and areas of expertise.
  • Improve advocacy efforts for seagrass mapping/monitoring.

Objectives

  • Take advantage of efficiencies by providing information on current or planned activities that would allow others to collaborate or benefit from project outputs, especially new data collections.
  • Foster application of appropriate mapping/monitoring technologies. This would include strengths, weaknesses, skill requirements, private sector vendors, and general costs or drivers of costs.
  • Optimize data quality by serving as a location for best practices manuals and documents related to mapping/monitoring.
  • Provide access to relevant grey literature, reports, and other documents outside the traditional journal publications.
  • Provide input to managers, restoration officials, and other coastal resource managers on implementation and application of the outputs from monitoring, mapping, and data synthesis efforts.

 

The Seagrass Community of Practice holds an open conference call every two months. Anyone interested may join the call. An announcement is sent one week before the call. Additionally, the CoP has informal meetings at the Gulf of Mexico Alliance All-Hands and Mid-Year meetings. A webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, August 21, 2019, 9:30 am-11:00 AM Central Time. The foci of the webinar are a discussion about data gaps for the Seagrass Status and Trends Update Report, updates on the efforts at the GOMA All-hands meeting, ongoing projects, and the next steps. Those interested in participating in the webinar, please contact Catherine Lockwood (lockwoodc@cnlworld.org) for access to the webinar.

Accomplishments

Seagrass Monitoring Needs and Assessment Workshop
Gulf Alliance Habitat Focus Team Star Award 2017 and EPA Gulf of Mexico Program Office Funding

A Seagrass Monitoring Needs and Assessment Workshop was held October 3-5, 2017 at the EPA Gulf Ecology Division Laboratory in Gulf Breeze, FL. There were 42 attendees at the workshop from the five Gulf states, multiple federal agencies, NGOs, and other local organizations. The monitoring approach developed by the collective knowledge of the GOM seagrass experts will produce an invaluable resource to guide future restoration efforts conducted through the RESTORE Act. Download the workshop final report “Gulf-wide Seagrass Monitoring and Needs Assessment Workshop: Report for the Gulf of Mexico Alliance September 2018”.

The final outcomes for the Seagrass Monitoring Needs and Assessment workshop exceeded expectations with the development of a comprehensive Approach Construct for a seagrass monitoring tier matrix hierarchy based on spatial area, frequency of monitoring, and scope of intent along with a guide for tier applications and recommendations for a tier protocol.

Upcoming Activities

Seagrass Status and Trends
Gulf Alliance Habitat Focus Team Star Award 2018 and EPA Gulf of Mexico Program Office Funding

This project addresses the need for an update and re-assessment of seagrass resources across the Gulf. The last comprehensive seagrass assessment was conducted more than a decade ago and was limited in the type of data that was available at that time.  Experts have recommended an update and re-assessment of seagrass resources across the Gulf.

Alabama Pilot Project

The Alabama Seagrass Pilot Project will assist and inform the development of Gulf-wide Seagrass monitoring, assessment, and reporting standards and protocols for multiple scales. The Pilot Project can be used to facilitate technology transfer and the dissemination of products, lessons learned, and other materials for Seagrass restoration practitioners.  A major objective is to provide high-quality data to state and federal partners in Mobile Bay. The Pilot Project can be used to provide an opportunity to demonstrate best practices for Seagrass mapping and monitoring. These best practices could then be applied to Seagrass mapping and monitoring efforts across the Gulf of Mexico.

Contact

Contact the Community of Practice Steering Committee by email: SAVCoP-GOM@noaa.gov