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National Shellfisheries Association Presentation

Slide Presentation

1.Meeting the Gulf of Mexico Program's Shellfish Challenge


I would like to talk to you about a regional planning project to promote shellfish restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. The Shellfish Challenge Project has been undertaken by the the Gulf of Mexico Program as part of its regionwide effort to promote restoration of shellfish growing waters in the Gulf. NOAA's Strategic Environmental Assessment or SEA Division is one of the Federal partners that works closely with the Program, and has assisted the Gulf Program for the last two years on this project. The objectives of this talk are:

¥ Overview of the strategic assessment phase of the project

¥ Status of what's happening in Louisiana regarding this project

¥ Some idea of the planning process that is being used

2. What is the challenge?


What is the Shellfish Challenge? It is a challenge to Federal, state, and local governments in the Gulf region to work together to open 10 percent more growing waters to safe harvest. It is one of 10 "Environmental Challenges" or program objectives that the Gulf of Mexico Program identified in 1991.

The Gulf of Mexico Program is working closely with the SEA Division to develop a structured planning process to meet this Challenge. The SEA Division has had extensive experience in strategic assessments, and in shellfish harvest classification issues as they have produced the 1985 and 1990 National Shellfish Register.

The figure shows that shellfish growing water closures are a widespread problem in the Gulf region. Shellfish harvesting is restricted in at least 50 percent of the growing waters in those estuaries that are tagged by a red dot.

3. What are the objectives?

There is not a single problem causing concern, so there can not be a single solution. Use of growing waters is lost, restricted, or reduced because of pollution sources, loss or modification of habitat, or because of administrative or management constraints. In fact, the central crux of this challenge is to sort out the "best" strategies for addressing the challenge from a long list of candidates. The key is defining what we all mean by "best".

4. Project Phases

5. Targeting Strategies and Watersheds


Strategies were identified under three general categories - Pollution Sources, Habitat Enhancement, and Resource Management. A total of 32 strategies were identified - 13 in the first group, 5 in the second, and 14 in the third. Watersheds were also targeted as being "Best", "Good", "Fair", or inappropriate candidates as locations for implementation for each strategy. The top priority strategies for each group are shown in the figure above.

 

By presenting the results of this targeting in a matrix, a manager can determine the best strategies for a particular watershed (by loby looking down the matrix), or which watersheds in the region are good candidates for a particular strategy (by looking across the matrix).

6. Selected Best Candidate Watersheds


The first step in this process was to identify the watersheds where this process would be tested. We worked with the regional planning program, using the results of the strategic assessment, to identify a top watershed in each of the five Gulf states. The first watershed selected was the Barataria/Terrebonne bays system in Louisiana.

Plans are to begin projects in Alabama and Mississippi in 1997, and projects in Texas and Florida in 1998.

7. Membership of the Watershed Evaluation Team


The actual assessment process used at the watershed scale will be similar to that used at the regional scale. It will make use of data and experts to develop consensus on where the best candidate areas are for selected strategies.

The project will take about 9 to 12 months to complete. Recommendations will be presented to an advisory panel of senior officials for their review and approval. We will conduct a series of stakeholder meetings the first week of November, followed by a targeting workshop in January. The watershed plan for the Barataria-Terrebonne system completed by June 1997.

Because we are now working at a level where decisions will affect people more directly, it is important to develop strong contacts early in the project with local officials and key interest groups, and to identify the likely funding sources for the implementation projects as soon as possible.

8. Membership of the Watershed Evaluation Team

9.What are the Solutions


There is not a single problem causing concern, so there can not be a single solution. Use of growing waters is lost, restricted, or reduced because of pollution sources, loss or modification of habitat, or because of administrative or management constraints.

For example, because shellfish growing water classification is based in large part on bacteriological water quality, the extent of the restricted zone in the upper part of Restoration Bay could be shrunk if inputs of fecal coliform bacteria were reduced. This could be achieved by fixing some of the failing septic tanks in the residential area known as Septic Acres, or by controlling fecal coliform levels in urban runoff discharged to the Oyster River. If water quality improves, and the restricted line is moved landward, more area of Bountiful Bar will be available for oyster harvest, and progress will have been made on the Shellfish Challenge.

Other strategies can achieve progress in other ways. In fact, the central problem of this challenge is to sort out the "best" strategies for addressing the challenge from a long list of candidates. The key is defining what is meant by "best".

10.Stakeholder Meetings

11.Map Showing Pollution Projects

12.Oyster Restoration Project Targeting Workshop

13. Coordinating with the Barataria/Terrebonne NEP

14.Next Steps

15. Shellfish Challenge Web Site

16. A Regional and Watershed Level Communication Tool

17. Bottom Line


This slide summarizes some of the key ideas to take away about this project. It is important to understand that this project is not a legislatively mandated effort, but rather an experiment in developing a process that will bring Federal, state, and local stakeholders together to address a problem that impacts the environmental and economic conditions in the Gulf.

18. Lessons Learned..and Re-Learned

Gulf of Mexico Program Office
Mail Code: EPA/GMPO
Stennis Space Center, MS 39529-6000
228-688-3726
FAX: 228-688-2709


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