Healthy Coastal Ecosystems
The maintenance and restoration of healthy ecosystems is fundamental to life along Louisiana’s coast. Development, overfishing, sea level rise, subsidence, loss of barrier islands and other factors have resulted in water quality degradation and hypoxia, a decline of fisheries, wetlands loss, proliferation of invasive species, reduced storm and surge protection and a host of other challenges. Louisiana’s invaluable coastal wetlands and forests have suffered severely from the combined effects of man’s activities and nature’s whims. To help restore and preserve the state’s coastal ecosystems, LSG promotes innovative research and outreach that increases our understanding of ecosystem function and implementation of appropriate designs for restoring lost function.
Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture
Louisiana has experienced a decline in many of its major fisheries while simultaneously seafood consumption nationwide has been on the rise. LSG, through its research, extension and education activities, and work with industry partners, has helped to stabilize and improve many sectors of the state’s fisheries seafood producing industries. The NOAA Aquaculture Program states that aquaculture is in its infancy in the U.S., amounting to just over $1 billion of a $70 billion worldwide industry. This is especially so in Louisiana where aquaculture has the potential to expand economic opportunities which in turn will help meet the increased demand for seafood. But many questions need to be addressed for the industry’s full potential to be realized. Seafood safety is a growing concern as international trade increases, and fish diseases and contamination of imports loom as larger problems. Louisiana Sea Grant plays key roles in advancing public understanding of the nature of these problems and opportunities.
Resilient Communities and Economies
Coastal communities provide vital economic, social and recreational opportunities for thousands of Louisianans, but population migration, especially since Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, have transformed the state’s coastal landscapes and intensified demand on finite coastal resources. These changes are placing tremendous pressure on coastal lands, water supplies and traditional ways of life. To accommodate more people and activity, and to balance growing demands on coastal resources, new policies, institutional capacities and management approaches to guide the preservation and use of coastal and ocean resources must be developed. Additionally, sea level rise, the increased number and intensity of coastal storms, the ongoing threat of oil spills and other natural and human hazards are putting more people and property at risk along Louisiana’s coast, with major implications for human safety and the economic and environmental health of coastal areas. It is essential that residents of coastal communities understand these risks and learn what they can do both to reduce their vulnerability and to respond quickly and effectively when destructive events occur. Louisiana Sea Grant uses its integrated research, training and technical assistance capabilities and its presence in coastal communities to play a major role in helping local citizens, decision-makers and industries plan for hazardous events and optimize their ability to respond to and rebuild after a disaster.
Environmental Literacy and Workforce Development
An environmentally literate person is someone who has a fundamental understanding of the systems of the natural world, the relationships and interactions between the living and non-living environment and the ability to understand and utilize scientific evidence to make informed decisions regarding environmental issues. These issues involve uncertainty and require the consideration of economic, aesthetic, cultural and ethical values. The scientific, technical and communication skills needed to address the daunting environmental challenges confronting our nation are critical to developing a national workforce capacity. Louisiana Sea Grant is well positioned to foster scientifically-literate citizens to serve as stewards of our local coastal and marine resources. LSG’s team of educators and extension professionals is meeting the challenge of improving today’s science education through its professional training for fishers, educators and innovative curriculum resources for students and teachers in K-16. Our classroom and community stewardship programs are developed for all learners, including underserved student and fisher populations in coastal Louisiana. Through programs such as Louisiana Fisheries Forward (LFF), LSG provides professional development and education opportunities to commercial and charter fishers on new fisheries technology and best practice methods. LSG also supports the professional development of undergraduate and graduate students through our peer student and youth mentoring and service programs, science communication competitions, conference travel awards and by offering fellowship programs and other career development opportunities.