View a copy of the Statement of work for the Living Marine Resources portion for the GAME Project.
Furthering the knowledge of Living Marine Resources status in the Gulf of Mexico
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding will allow the Gulf Geospatial Assessment of Marine Ecosystems (GAME) project to refocus their efforts to include data related to Living Marine Resources (LMR), as stated in Priority Issue Area No. 3, the Ecosystems Integration and Assessment of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Regional Partnership Projects.
Since data inventory and integration efforts have already commenced in the gulf, there is a good base from which to expand the project to include LMR. Additionally, scientists and managers from Mexican states bordering the Gulf of Mexico will be encouraged to contribute information to the database that comprises the GAME catalog. Once the database is fully populated, it will be available as an online searchable database for use by state and federal agencies in the United States, and by other countries that border the Gulf of Mexico.
The GAME catalog is in line with EPA requirements for completion of an inventory of existing LMR data, to help coordinate the collection of information from federal and state agencies. An Internet-searchable database will identify sources of available data and associated metadata, or information about a dataset, concerning the Gulf of Mexico. The data inventory will have both a regional and local scope and will focus on gathering LMR information beginning with the estuaries and then progressing offshore to the edge of the continental shelf to a depth of 200 meters.
PHASE 1 - Identify and Review Gulf of Mexico Living Marine Resources
Objectives, Outputs and Outcomes: Coordinate the collection of information from state, federal, and other sources and complete an inventory of existing LMR data stakeholders. This inventory will identify the data available as well as any associated metadata. The inventory will have both a regional and local scope. It will focus on identifying data sources, cataloging the data, and where applicable, pointing to online datasets for LMR situated in the coastal zone.
Phase 1 consists of (1) the preliminary identification of LMR data stakeholders throughout the gulf states in the United States and (2) the creation of metadata "lite" for 600-plus peer-reviewed papers organized in a Food Habits of Fishes Bibliography for estuarine and marine environments of the Gulf of Mexico gathered by Dr. Simons (Texas Parks and Wildlife Department [TPWD]). The bibliography attempts to bring together all published studies and theses conducted on the food of brackish water and marine fishes of the Gulf of Mexico from the United States, Mexico, and Cuba. Habitats covered include the estuaries and continental shelf as well as the pelagic (open sea), mesopelagic (or depths below 600 feet), the continental slope, and very deep water.
To facilitate its use, the report is divided into several sections so that the information may be retrieved by author, fish species, geographic location, or key words. In addition, it is indexed by taxonomic name, or order of a classification, as well as English and Spanish common names. The work is intended for use primarily by those academic and government scientists who are attempting to understand the trophic , or nutritional, structure of marine ecosystems and mathematical modelers interested in marine fishery dynamics, although it could also be of interest to fish or fishing enthusiasts or other naturalists. The senior author has copies of all documents listed in the bibliography. The intent is to make these documents available on a Web site with the bibliography. The bibliography was the motivation behind a recent effort to obtain funding to create a trophic database for the Gulf of Mexico. Several proposals were submitted to the National Science Foundation (NSF) but no funding was awarded. Currently, small efforts are underway to capture all of the spatial information, or information related to a specific space, for the studies (such as station locations, and locations and names of systems where the studies were conducted) and to capture and assess the habitat information from all the studies using the Coastal and Marine Ecosystem Classification Standard (CMECS) methodology, or series of procedures, guidelines and methods. Texas Sea Grant has agreed to publish the bibliography as a PDF file document. We are also discussing publication of a written copy through Texas A&M University Press. At present, there is no metadata associated with any of these publications. However, this information is highly useful in establishing baseline LMR information. The TPWD database will be incorporated into the GAME catalog and available through the NOAA-NCDDC Ecowatch portal.
GAME staff has already identified possible key individuals and organizations holding LMR information throughout the five United States Gulf States. We will leverage our partnerships with federal agencies like NOAA's National Coastal Data Development Center (NCDDC); state agencies like Dauphin Island Sea Laboratory (DISL), TPWD, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MS DMR), and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LA WLF); research institutes like Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies; Non-Government Organizations (NGO's)like Nature Serve; the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission; and others to get information about LMR stakeholders.
Letters and e-mails are being targeted to those most likely to have LMR data. Meetings, workshops, and conference presentations also are planned to help contact those who have the information. We will utilize online conferencing when applicable as well as face-to-face meetings to acquire LMR information. The primary outputs of Phase 1 include the following:
1. Preliminary list of LMR stakeholders around the Gulf;
2. New GAME catalog entries created for referenced publication from Dr. Simons' (TPDW) food habits bibliography; records will be served through the NOAA-NCDDC Ecowatch portal.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWC-FWRI) has experience in assessing the needs of a diverse user community and has implemented such assessments through projects such as the Blueways project, which examines human activities within the marine environment, and the GAME project, which has already been discussed.
Since the catalog has already been developed for the Gulf of Mexico in response to user needs, we will be able to expand our data mining effort to incorporate information regarding LMR in the United States and Mexican states bordering the gulf. In particular, efforts will be concentrated on the following activities: locate and inventory existing LMR data and information as it relates to EPA's strategic plan sub-objective 4.3.5: Improve the Health of the Gulf of Mexico. This effort will benefit gulf managers and scientists by pulling together individuals and their LMR information to better inform management decisions. This effort complements the existing objectives of the NOAA-Coastal Services Center grant "Gulf of Mexico Alliance Ecosystem Integration and Assessment Priority Team Support" and supports long-term regional efforts to implement ecosystem-based management and ocean governance.
Methods Phase One: Phase One is an effort to identify LMR stakeholders and begin to populate an LMR working group comprised of the appropriate representatives from each gulf state. This phase will also include incorporating Dr Simons' (TPWD) historical LMR information into the GAME catalog. Avoiding duplicating efforts will be pursued whenever possible where previous data synthesis projects have been conducted, such as those by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC), the Nature Conservancy (TNC), the State of Florida Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS), NOAA-National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and other NOAA offices, and others, thereby leveraging efforts already underway.
A Web-accessible catalog has been developed and deployed. This catalog is a relational Microsoft Access database and is compliant with Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) standards. The catalog can provide the standard metadata format needed to streamline metadata development and maintenance at the state, local, and federal levels. The catalog structure is broad in nature and it provides a general first level of metadata (metadata "lite") for each dataset. It has been expanded under the Gulf GAME project to include additional fields in order to identify data sources in the other gulf states. Currently, the catalog contains over 2200 entries, primarily from Florida, including such diverse data sets as NOAA habitat, FWC-FWRI seagrass beds, United States Geological Survey Lidar bathymetry and submerged aquatic vegetation, University of South Florida-IMaRS (Institute for Marine Remote Sensing) MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) and AVHRR (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer) satellite data products, Florida Geological Survey (FGS) side scan sonar and bathymetry, and MMS pipeline locations.
Task 1-Identify LMR Stakeholders and Form LMR Working Group
1-1. Through the current efforts of the GAME project, we have been able to compile a list of over 2,000 contacts. A large percentage might have or might work with individuals holding LMR information. Initial efforts will include creating a subset of our contact list targeting LMR data stakeholders. The range of contacts includes local, state, and federal agencies, universities, research laboratories, water management districts, private organizations, and NGO's. E-mails will be sent and phone calls will be made to solicit (1) participation in a gulf-wide working group to identify LMR issues needing more public support, and (2) information sharing for the development of a LMR information clearinghouse.
1-2. A preliminary list of LMR stakeholders will be provided to the EPA by the end of the second quarter of year one. The list will include individuals holding information and individuals that have agreed to participate in the LMR working group, organized by U.S. gulf states.
Task 2-Transfer the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Food Habits Bibliography into the GAME catalog
2-1. Work with Dr. Simons (TPWD) to obtain the necessary material to create entries in the GAME catalog for his database of 600-plus peer-reviewed journal articles. This task requires extracting the necessary information from each article to create metadata 'lite.'
2-2. Transfer information from the GAME catalog to the NOAA-NCDDC (National Coastal Data Development Center) Ecowatch portal to allow public access.
PHASE Two - Populate the GAME Catalog with FWC-FWRI Specimen Information Services Collections Database
Objectives, Outputs and Outcomes: Phase Two consists of one major activity, the management of the FWC-FWRI Specimen Information Services Collections (hereinafter SIS Collections) database for transfer of information into the GAME catalog. To date, the database has been populated with over 19,000 lot records for fish species, and over 66,000 lot records for invertebrate species. The latitude and longitude data on over 14,000 field locations for the over 85,000 database cataloged lots in the SIS Collections has been entered into the database and has been converted from the standard degrees, minutes, and seconds to a GIS compatible format.
The FWC-FWRI SIS Collections database is an extensive relational Microsoft Access database with LMR information dating back to the 1950s. Considerable work is needed to link the SIS Collections database to the GAME catalog. Having access to this information will allow scientists, researchers, and resource managers to use the information for their own studies. Also, it will provide extensive LMR information to better assist decisions supporting ecosystem-based management and the improvement of the health of the Gulf of Mexico.
The primary output of Phase Two is the following:
1. New GAME catalog entries created from the FWC-FWRI SIS Collections database; records served through the NOAA-NCDDC Ecowatch portal.
This activity is a step toward establishing baseline information and improving the understanding of LMR status throughout the Gulf of Mexico.
Methods Phase Two: To accomplish this phase of the project, it will be necessary to create entries in the GAME catalog at the appropriate taxonomic level to be determined by the Principle Investigator's of the project. Each entry from the SIS Collections database will be treated as a separate dataset of interest relating to LMR information and point back to the SIS Collections database as a whole. Records created in the GAME catalog will not inherit taxonomic relationships. A formal survey has already been created and deployed for the GAME project and is available online at http://research.myfwc.com/game/survey.aspx.
Due to the extensive relationships in the SIS Collections database, several queries will have to be developed in an attempt to make the database more functional. Additional queries will have to be created to organize and summarize the information to be included into the GAME catalog.
Task 1-Create metadata "lite" for the FWC-FWRI Collections information
1-1. Work with the FWC-FWRI SIS Collections group to create entries in the GAME catalog for their LMR information. This task requires extracting/grouping the necessary information to create entries. This will most likely be a data entry exercise.
1-2. Transfer information from the GAME catalog to the NOAA-NCDDC Ecowatch portal to allow public access.
PHASE Three: Populate other FWC-FWRI Living Marine Resources databases into the GAME catalog
Objectives, Outputs and Outcomes: Phase Three consists of one major activity: the management of other FWC-FWRI LMR databases for transfer of information into the GAME catalog. These databases include the Florida Fisheries Ecosystem Database and Fisheries Independent Monitoring database.
The primary output of Phase Three is:
1. New GAME catalog entries are created from other FWC-FWRI databases; records served through the NOAA-NCDDC Ecowatch portal.
This activity is another step towards setting baseline information and improving the understanding of LMR status throughout the Gulf of Mexico
Methods Phase Three: To accomplish this phase of the project, it will be necessary to create metadata "lite" through the online GAME Survey. This will most likely be a data entry exercise.
Task 1-Create metadata "lite" for FWC-FWRI LMR information
1-1. Work with other groups at FWC-FWRI to create entries in the GAME catalog for their LMR information. This task requires extracting/grouping the necessary information to create metadata 'lite'.
1-2. Transfer information from the GAME catalog to the NOAA-NCDDC Ecowatch portal to allow public access.
Objectives, Outputs and Outcomes: Throughout the length of this project there will be a constant effort to discover new sources of LMR information. The work that has already been completed with the GAME project will enable staff to pursue additional sources of information identified in Phase 1 Task 1-1. The staff will focus their efforts on several sources of LMR information such as the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, NOAA-NMFS, and other U.S. gulf state organizations previously identified. Cataloging LMR information from around the gulf and making it available through the NOAA-NCDDC Ecowatch portal will support the EPA's strategic plan sub-objective 4.3.5: Improve the Health of the Gulf of Mexico.
The stakeholders identified in Phase One Task 1-1 will participate in online and personal meetings and workshops to determine LMR issues needing more public support. Input will also be solicited to develop a list of topics to support Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) between the different state and federal agencies. Having sound MOUs in place will aid relationships between departments or agencies managing shared resources, such as the Gulf of Mexico. MOUs provide a clear understanding of each party's commitments and goals. They also define the expectations for a series of pre-determined responses should certain criteria be met. It is vital to have these understandings in place for the proper management and protection of the marine environments and LMR throughout the Gulf of Mexico.
The primary outputs for the ongoing activities include the following:
1. LMR data and reports within the boundaries of coastal and marine waters, adjacent federal waters and coastal lands of the Gulf of Mexico are identified and cataloged;
2. Working group meetings are held to identify LMR issues needing more public support;
3. Possible MOU topics are agreed upon.
The success of the ongoing activities will be measured by the creation of additional metadata "lite" entries into the GAME catalog which, in turn, will be uploaded into the NOAA-NCDDC Ecowatch portal. A list of LMR workgroup meetings, participation of LMR workgroup members within the Ecosystem Integration and Assessment Priority Issue Team Alliance meetings, and a list of MOU topics will be documented and included in the final report provided to EPA upon completion of the project.
Methods Ongoing Activities: Data discovery, collaboration with local, state, and federal agencies, private companies, NGOs and universities throughout the Gulf will commence after the identification of preliminary LMR stakeholders. As soon as information is identified it will be added to the GAME catalog. Economies of effort will be pursued whenever possible where previous data synthesis projects have been conducted such as those by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, The Nature Conservancy, the State of Florida Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, NOAA-NMFS and others.
Task One: Identify relevant spatial and tabular datasets
1-1 As part of the data discovery effort, collaborations will be set in place with relevant state and federal agencies, local municipalities, academic institutions, regional observing systems and recognized regional experts including NGOs and others in the private sector to expand the data catalog and inventory to include LMR information.
1-2 Manage the advancement of the online survey to determine locations of preliminary data sources identified in Task 1-1, including mechanisms to solicit other relevant information sources not included in the preliminary target list.
1-3 Continue the identification and inventory of readily available GIS and tabular data sets and/or develop active links to other existing archives, as well as near-real-time data streams, according to the project's data management plan; as well as create metadata and transfer LMR information into the GAME catalog. Develop a plan for acquiring non-electronic information in the Gulf of Mexico that are desirable and readily available for keypunching or other data input procedures.
Task Two: Convene LMR working group meetings
2-1 Key LMR stakeholders, identified in Phase One Task 1-1, will be requested to participate in a gulf-wide working group to assess and identify LMR issues needing more public support. The working group meetings will also allow for the GAME team to further identify existing datasets that are not already available in the GAME catalogue. Finally, the sharing of LMR information will be solicited to make it publicly available. The NOAA-NCDDC Ecowatch portal is thought to be the best location for this gulf-wide information to reside. These LMR working group meetings will be held concurrently, when feasible, with Ecosystem Intergration and Assessment and/or Gulf Of Mexico Alliance All Hands meetings to further leverage funding previously awarded to the Harte Research Institute. Travel funds requested here will be used for key representatives to attend, if other means are not available.
2-2 Notes from these workgroup meetings will be included into quarterly reports and a final assessment will be provided to EPA upon completion of the project.
Benefits (outcomes) derived from the listed activities include an open dialogue between appropriate LMR representatives from each gulf state and the opportunity to better publicize their needs, both within and beyond GOMA activities. It will also provide: easier and wider access to LMR information, increased knowledge of LMR status, and improved support for marine conservation actions.
The number of new entries in the GAME catalog can be used as an indicator to determine the improvement brought by the proposed project. A larger amount of information available means more support for natural resource managers in their decision making. This will help improve ocean and coastal management practices in the gulf.