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Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Wins Second-Place Gulf Guardian Award

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Jennah Durant or Joe Hubbard (

DALLAS – (Nov. 30, 2017) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System will receive a second place 2017 Gulf Guardian Award in the Partnerships Category. The organization is recognized for encouraging and developing citizen science to improve the Gulf.

Ben Scaggs, Director of Gulf of Mexico Program said, “Whether for individual recreational use or as an economic engine supporting a wide variety of jobs and industry, the Gulf of Mexico is a vibrant yet vulnerable ecosystem. Protecting this national resource requires innovative approaches and proactive measures. The Gulf Guardian award winners are paving the way for ‘out of the box’ thinking and replicable practices.” 

The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System’s (GCOOS) Gulf Citizen Science Portal encourages a widespread, diverse Gulf community to contribute knowledge and data about the Gulf. The backbone of the citizen monitoring network is comprised of retired citizens and many students from underserved and underrepresented communities. Not only are the data gathered providing important long-term, supplemental data to resource managers, the acquisition and data sharing processes provide valuable workforce development and stewardship opportunities. Contributors learn the value and need for research, monitoring and careful management of the Gulf’s living and non-living natural resources and explore how their everyday lives and livelihoods are connected to the Gulf.

The portal was developed and implemented as a cost-effective way to gather local information over long periods of time, allowing state, federal and academic programs to supplement datasets with important detail. GCOOS’ unique position as a data aggregator allows the organization to address the challenges inherent in integrating diverse datasets collected with different methodologies and instrumentation so managers can have confidence in the information.

The Gulf of Mexico Program initiated the Gulf Guardian awards in 2000 as a way to recognize and honor the businesses, community groups, individuals, and agencies that are taking positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful and productive. First, second and third place awards are given in seven categories: individual, business/industry, youth environmental education, civic/nonprofit organizations, cultural diversity/environmental justice, partnership and bi-national efforts. This year’s ceremony will be held on November 30, 2017, at the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort in Point Clear, Alabama. 

The Gulf of Mexico Program began in 1988 to protect, restore, and maintain the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem in economically sustainable ways. The Gulf of Mexico Program is underwritten by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is a non-regulatory, inclusive consortium of state and federal government agencies and representatives of the business and agricultural community, fishing industry, scientists, environmentalists, and community leaders from all five Gulf States. The Gulf Program seeks to improve the environmental health of the Gulf in concert with economic development.

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