The NOAA RESTORE Science Program has conducted three funding competitions which have provided $35M to 26 teams of researchers and resource managers. These teams and their projects were selected following rigorous and highly competitive processes which included a review by panels of outside experts. Collectively, these awards demonstrate the NOAA RESTORE Science Program’s commitment to producing timely and high-quality scientific findings and products to support the management and sustainability of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, including its fisheries.
Most recently, the third competition (FFO-2019) led to the awarding of $15.6M to four project teams that are working directly with resource managers to understand trends in living coastal and marine resources and the processes driving them. The project teams will be investigating fire effects in Gulf of Mexico marshes; exploring how oyster, blue crab, and spotted seatrout populations respond to environmental change; linking historic data with new data to detect trends in pelagic and deep sea fauna; and characterizing variability in reef fish communities and their habitats. These projects will increase our understanding of how shellfish, fish, birds, and marine mammals use the Gulf of Mexico and will provide valuable information to Gulf of Mexico resource managers.
The second competition (FFO-2017) led to the awarding of $16.7M to 15 projects that focus on living coastal and marine resources and their habitats in the Gulf of Mexico. Six teams are working directly with resource managers to improve the decision-support tools available for managing living coastal and marine resources in the region. Nine teams are conducting research on living coastal and marine resources to answer questions resource managers need answered about food webs, habitat use, fisheries recruitment, the impact of stressors, and connections between habitats. The results from these projects will increase our understanding of how living coastal and marine resources, including fish, birds, marine mammals, shellfish, and deepwater corals, use the Gulf of Mexico and provide valuable information and tools to inform their management.
The first competition (FFO-2015) led to the awarding of $2.7M to seven projects that assessed ecosystem modeling, evaluated indicators for ecosystem conditions, and assessed and developed recommendations for monitoring and observation in the Gulf of Mexico. These projects synthesized current scientific understanding and management needs to inform the direction of the NOAA RESTORE Science Program as well as the other science and restoration initiatives in the region. Project results have informed the development of management strategies to support the sustainability of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, including its fisheries.