President and CEO of Ocean Conservancy, working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges.
An Ecologically and Economically Sustainable Gulf of Mexico – A perspective on day one of the Summit The Gulf of Mexico is vital to the energy security, economic vitality, and environmental and human health of the United States. Plenary speakers were invited because they have a vision of a future Gulf and the world ocean of which it is a part that is positive and compelling. Our speakers are well aware of challenges that face our oceans, but they are also solutions orientated and willing to share their thoughts and ideas to help set the stage for a productive Summit. The remainder of the day builds on these thoughts and ideas. How we approach the challenge of Gulf restoration can have a greater impact, beyond environmental health, for Gulf communities and economies. A key aspect of this is to better understand how environmental health is linked to human health. Equally important, is determining how a robust environment drives societal well-being. This information must then be made digestible and actionable so decision-makers and stakeholders can use science to improve policy, management actions and every day decisions. These considerations will be the focus of Monday’s sessions as we envision and examine priority challenges and opportunities for developing The Future Gulf.
Introduction and Defining the Goals for the Summit
The Future Gulf – Looking to New Challenges and Opportunities
Sylvia Earle – Mission Blue
Russell Callender – NOAA/NOS Assistant Administrator
Elba Rosa Perez Montoya – Ministeria de Ciencia y Tecnologia y Medio Ambiente, Cuba (invited)
Rick Woychick – Deputy Director, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Representative TBA – Mexico National Commission on Oceans (invited)
Andreas Merkl – Ocean Conservancy
Representative TBA – Shell Corporation
Toby Baker – TCEQ Commissioner, RESTORE, GOMA
President and CEO of Ocean Conservancy, working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges.
Baker also serves as Governor Abbott’s appointee to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, represents Texas as the chair on the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Management Team, and serves on the Coastal Land Advisory Board.
Lunch: OneHealth OneGulf – Linking Humans and Ecosystems
Dr. Rita Colwell, Chair of the GoMRI Research Board, Distinguished Professor University of Maryland College Park, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and former NSF Director, will introduce One Health as a unifying approach to Gulf restoration. One Health is the collaborative effort of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally to attain optimal health for people, animals, and the environment.
Rita Colwell – Chair of the GoMRI Research Board, Distinguished Professor University of Maryland College Park, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and former NSF Director
Environment – Human Health and Well-being This session will investigate linkages between Gulf ecosystems and human/public health, as well as how future disasters – both manmade and natural – may affect such linkages. The session will provide an overview of efforts at the national level to support research, information gathering, and capacity building on environmental and human health linkages, in particular the health impacts from exposures. This session will also examine how these and other state/local efforts are building community resilience to potential exposures, the major challenges that remain, and potential solutions to overcome such challenges. By drawing from and building on a multi-stakeholder training exercise simulating a hydrofluoric acid release in an urbanized area, experts will discuss the operationalization of disaster preparedness, response and recovery to mitigate the impact of a disaster, and enhance resilience across the human health to environmental spectrum. Panelists will then apply lessons learned, emphasizing the training needs and remaining research questions, to this and other disaster scenarios (e.g., hurricanes and oil spills).
Moderator: Cornelis Elferink – Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Texas Medical Branch
Aubrey Miller (pending) – National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH
Sharon Croisant – Community Research, University of Texas Medical Branch
Mikel Mastrangelo – Disaster Preparedness, University of Texas Medical Branch
Jennifer Horney – Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Texas A&M Health Science Center
Currently the Senior Medical Advisor to the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, a Faulty Fellow of the Hazards Reduction and Recovery Center, and the Public Health and Environment Lead of the Resilience and Climate Change Cooperative Project
Gulf Restoration – Bridging Environment and Community Well-being RESTORE and NRDA driven restoration and mitigation must link seamlessly with the dynamic nature of the Gulf of Mexico large marine ecosystem. This panel of Gulf management and restoration leaders will reflect on what they anticipate as the critical science needs for the next fifteen years and beyond of Gulf restoration effort as well as how they hope to bring it all together.
Moderator: Robin Riechers – TPWD
Frederick “Buck” Sutter – Director for NOAA Fisheries Office of Habitat Conservation
Susan Rees – Mobile District Corps of Engineers Gulf of Mexico
Michael Poff – Coastal Engineering Consultants
Bob Bendick – Director of The Nature Conservancy Gulf of Mexico Program
Michael Poff is a coastal engineer intimately involved in a diverse range of coastal projects including ecosystem restoration, shoreline stabilization, erosion control, beach renourishment, inlet and waterway management, and coastal structures
Dinner: Cuba, Tourism and Conservation Science – The Challenge of Balance Dr. Richard Feinberg (UC San Diego/Brookings Institute), world renowned expert on Latin America and author of the 2016 Open for Business: Building the New Cuban Economy, and Fernando Bretos (Curator, Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science / Director, Cuba Marine Research and Conservation Program, Ocean Foundation), one of the USA’s leading conservation experts on Cuba and director of the Trinational Initiative, share perspectives on an evolving Cuba.
Moderator: Victoria Ramenzoni – Harte Research Institute
Fernando Bretos – Curator, Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science and Director, Cuba Marine Research and Conservation Program
Richard Feinberg – Graduate School of Global Policy and Strategy UC San Diego
Professor of international political economy at the Graduate School of Global Policy and Strategy, UC San Diego, and senior fellow (non-resident) at the Brookings Institution
Science-Based Restoration and Accountability – A perspective on day two of the Summit Over the next fifteen years, some sixteen billion dollars will be expended to “restore” the Gulf of Mexico. How can the American public be assured that these funds are being expended wisely and that the funded projects have the best chance for success? Restoration Science is the collective term for activities to address this challenge. Science based adaptive management allows decision-makers to learn from both success and failure, improving future decision-making. Integrated monitoring on both a project and regional scale informs adaptive management. Assessing the health and productivity of the Gulf at the macro-ecosystem scale measures the success of restoration in relation to other drivers on environmental change. What are the metrics for assessing Gulf ecosystem health on a scale that is understandable by the American public; useful to managers and decision-makers; and defensible by the Gulf science community? How do we integrate individual restoration project metrics on a meaningful spatial scale? How do we link restoration to impacts on human health and well-being? How can we provide managers and decision-makers the means to meet the adaptive management challenges of a fifteen year restoration process and beyond? The remainder of the Summit is dedicated to answering these questions.
Communicating Science in Order to Adaptively Manage This session will feature issues of importance to the Gulf RESTORE Council and other programs funding restoration and conservation projects as well as the various science programs. For decision-makers to be effective at adaptively managing, the science hidden away in journals, technical reports, or even on researcher’s computers needs to reach decision-makers in a manner that is relevant and timely to their decision context. This information must be accessible and effectively communicated in a context that it is readily understood and utilized in coastal and marine resource management decisions. However, we know there are serious barriers to creating these connections and providing timely, actionable insight. What are some possible solutions? What examples are there of “breaking through the bottleneck”? What incentives are there for the scientists and the decision makers to see this happen? The session will build upon connected work at the Restore America’s Estuaries Summit in December 2016.
David Yoskowitz – Harte Research Institute
Alyssa Dausman – Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council
Buck Sutter – RESTORE
Erica Goldman – COMPASS
Heather Mannix – COMPASS
Science Director for the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, an independent federal agency created by the RESTORE Act in 2012
Director of Policy Engagement at COMPASS, a non-profit, non-advocacy organization that helps scientists build communication skills and engage effectively in the public discourse on the environment
Heather Mannix is the Assistant Director of Policy Engagement for COMPASS. In this position, she works to facilitate constructive discussion and interaction between scientists and decision makers
Nick Aumen is Regional Science Advisor for the US Geological Survey (Southeast Region), overseeing the Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystem Sciences program
Director of the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program since 2009, Roberta guides a management conference of over 100 community leaders in identifying and undertaking restoration, community capacity building, and policy related initiatives to improve and protect Alabama’s coastal resources
Science-based Restoration Monitoring It is important for restoration programs to develop clear and measurable ecological and, where appropriate, socio-economic objectives at a programmatic level to guide the evaluation of success in restoration projects. Such objectives are needed to target assessment indicators and identify critical uncertainties in the science in order to design monitoring systems that can evaluate progress toward meeting restoration goals. Gulf restoration science programs, in a collaborative setting, could then potentially align science/monitoring resources to achieve those objectives. This session will discuss key recommendations in the NAS Effective Monitoring Report about how restoration science – monitoring, modeling, research and adaptive management – can inform the restoration community and improve restoration effectiveness; availability of existing data inventories and conceptual models to design regional scale monitoring; and the importance of Gulf-wide baseline or reference conditions to describe restoration endpoints.
Session conveners: Paul Montagna – HRI, Gregory Steyer – USGS
Kenneth Heck – Dauphin Island Seal Lab, NAS Committee Member
Alexis Baldera – Ocean Conservancy
Leigh Anne Sharp – Louisiana CPRA
Marine ecologist with Dauphin Island Sea Lab whose research has focused on plant-animal interactions in coastal waters, with an emphasis on seagrass-dominated systems
Staff Restoration Scientist for the Gulf Restoration Program at Ocean Conservancy focusing on integrating ecological restoration and monitoring science into emerging Gulf policies and programs
Assessing the Gulf of Mexico as a Large Marine Ecosystem Two important assessments of the Gulf of Mexico will be presented and discussed. The first is the Gulf Report Card and Gulf Metrics Project of Texas OneGulf, which details progress on assessing the health of the Gulf on a macro-scale. The second is the release of NOAA’s much anticipated 2016 update: Ecosystem Status Report for the Gulf of Mexico. The original 2013 report was praised for its detailed but succinct summaries of a suite of important indicators for Gulf health. Mexico is also assembling a Report Card on coastal and marine health and will report on progress on this important effort.
Session convener: Larry McKinney – Harte Research Institute
Mark Harwell – Harwell Gentile & Associates
Jack Gentile – Harwell Gentile & Associates
Mandy Karnauskas – NOAA
Fishery Biologist at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Fisheries Science Center. She carries out research in ecosystem assessments and fisheries oceanography to support the sustainable management of marine resources.
Lunch – Challenges to an Ecologically and Economically Sustainable Gulf of Mexico. Scientists and institutions bordering the Gulf of Mexico in both Mexico and the USA are working together to better understand and manage the world’s ninth largest body of water. Their work can be foundational positive progress and model on which to build positive international relationships.
Moderator: Dr. Katya Wowk – Harte Research Institute
Dr. Chris D’Elia, Chair of the Gulf of Mexico University Research Consortium (GOMURC)
Dr. Porfirio Alvarez, Secretary General of the Consorcio de Instituciones de Investigación Marina del Gulfo de México y del Caribe (CiiMAR-GoMC)
Gulf Science – The Way Forward This panel of Gulf science program leaders will reflect what they have heard from other summit panels and what they anticipate as the critical science issues for fifteen years of Gulf restoration effort. They will also be asked to look beyond restoration to the broader science challenges facing the future Gulf.
Chris Elfring – Executive Director, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Gulf Research Program
Julien Lartigue – NOAA RESTORE Science Program
Elizabeth Fetherston-Resch – Florida RESTORE Act Center of Excellence
Jeff Francis – Texas OneGulf RESTORE Act Center of Excellence
Ruth Perry – Marine Scientists and Regulatory Policy Specialist, Shell Upstream Americas
Chris Robbins – Sr. Manager, Restoration Planning, Ocean Conservancy
Program director for Florida RESTORE Act Centers of Excellence Program – focused on marine fish, wildlife and comprehensive ecosystem monitoring in the Gulf of Mexico region
Her role, with guidance from a carefully selected Advisory Group, is to guide the Gulf Research Program’s planning and initial implementation, building from the general requirements in the Settlement Agreement to a multi-faceted science program of lasting impact
Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RESTORE Act Science Program which supports research, observation, and monitoring in the Gulf of Mexico to address regional science and management needs
GOMA Session Linking Science to Policy to Action This session will discuss ongoing work by the Gulf of Mexico Alliance as related to Summit topics.
Laura Bowie – Executive Director, GOMA
Executive Director for the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, a partnership of the five Gulf States with the goal to significantly increase regional collaboration to enhance the ecological and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico
Summit wrap up: Transition to GOMA All Hands and International Research Workshop
GOMA Tools Café and Reception – register HERE
Harte Research Institute International Research Workshop Welcome Reception
Gulf of Mexico Alliance All Hands meeting. Draft agenda not yet available
The Gulf of Mexico Workshop on International Research: Sponsored by BOEM, NAS-GRP, HRI and NOAA. Some 150 of the Gulf’s top scientists from the USA, Mexico and Cuba will develop research priorities for international collaboration.