Gulf of Mexico Research Plan
The Gulf of Mexico is a large, interlinked area with limited financial resources. The Gulf of Mexico Research Plan (GMRP) was developed to identify research needs and priorities for the Gulf of Mexico, encourage collaboration in the region, and increase stakeholder support.
The project is funded by the National Sea Grant College Program through the collaboration of the four Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant college programs (Florida Sea Grant, Louisiana Sea Grant, the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, and Texas Sea Grant). The GMRP was developed as a response to the 2007 report Charting the Course for Ocean Science in the United States for the Next Decade: An Ocean Research Priorities Plan and Implementation Strategy, which was developed to guide national ocean research. There was also a clear need in the region for integrated management, a coordinated research plan, and information exchange throughout the Gulf of Mexico due to the increased demands on resources of and impacts to the region. The GMRP links regional priorities to the national focus of the Ocean Research Priorities Plan by identifying and disseminating the highest priority needs in the region, promoting collaborative research, and developing partnerships.
The project was overseen by the four Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant offices and members of a Planning and Review Council, which represented a variety of stakeholders in the region including Mexico's Gulf states. The GMRP was developed through a three step process: conducting a thorough analysis of existing research and management strategic plans in the region, surveying stakeholders, and holding a series of five workshops. The analysis and review of 117 strategic plans and research processes began in the spring of 2007. The web-based survey took place in the fall of 2007, resulting in 571 comments on research priorities for the region. In January and February 2008, workshops were held in each Gulf State to provide input on the defined Ocean Research Priorities Plan themes and Gulf of Mexico priorities, which resulted in 261 research priorities and 251 non-research topics for the Gulf of Mexico. By analyzing all results, five overarching priority themes were established:
- Ecosystem Health Indicators;
- Freshwater Input and Hydrology;
- Habitats and Living Resources;
- Sea Level Change, Subsidence, and Storm Surge; and
- Water Quality and Nutrients.
Outcomes and Conclusions
The final GMRP was published in September 2009. It serves as a guide for research administrators and grantors by providing research priorities for the region and a process on how different organizations can collaborate on different projects. This could serve as a model for other areas struggling to gather the needed science to develop climate change adaptation plans. Similar regional planning efforts include: South Atlantic Regional Research Project, Gulf of Maine Regional Ocean Science Initiative, West Coast Regional Research and Information Needs, Great Lakes Regional Research Information Network, and the Alaska Regional Marine Research Plan.
Score, A. (2010). Gulf of Mexico Research Plan [Case study on a project of the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, Florida Sea Grant, Louisiana Sea Grant, and Texas Sea Grant]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: http://www.cakex.org/case-studies/gulf-mexico-research-plan (Last updated April 2010)