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Thursday, December 5, 2013

URI Graduate School Of Oceanography secures funds to help communities make smart ocean resources choices

URI Coastal Resources Center awarded ocean planning grant 
Jennifer McCann talks with a participant at a
marine spatial planning training held by the
URI Coastal Resources Center and the Rhode Island
Sea Grant College Program at the URI Graduate
School of Oceanography.

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — A center at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) that helps coastal communities, both locally and worldwide, plan for the wise use of sea-based resources, such as fish stocks and offshore wind power, has secured $659,238 in grant funds for its programs. 

The URI Coastal Resources Center (CRC) will use the money from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for a two-year project to educate coastal and ocean professionals at home and abroad about the newest management techniques for planning the allocation of uses and resources in increasingly busy and crowded oceans. 

“The Coastal Resources Center at URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography has a long and distinguished record to bring science, management and policy studies together to address important coastal and oceanic issues,” GSO Dean Bruce Corliss said. “This grant will allow CRC to help groups and institutions address critical needs in marine spatial planning and will have a significant impact on ocean sustainability in the future.”

CRC, which developed for the state a celebrated and model ocean planning document, the Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan (Ocean SAMP), is providing an innovative training program based on Ocean SAMP lessons learned to a worldwide network of ocean and coastal practitioners. Results from this project will subsequently inform and enhance the entire portfolio of CRC coastal and ocean management work – knowledge made available to the public. 

“This grant has been provided in large part due to the breadth of practical on-the-ground experience and knowledge CRC has attained over decades of work on marine issues. This grant will assist in disseminating best practices and helping other groups and institutions to apply innovative and proven approaches for improved governance of our oceans,” said Jennifer McCann, CRC U.S. Programs Director and Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program Extension Leader.

The Moore Foundation award is its second for CRC. The first, in 2012, funded an international marine spatial planning symposium based on the learning of the Ocean SAMP process. The latest award will allow CRC to provide opportunities for national and international practitioners to learn from each other. This includes hosting another symposium and sharing CRC’s process for developing the Ocean SAMP as well as the experiences of other states and regions in proactive ocean planning to protect coastal resources while maintaining and encouraging appropriate development.

“Rhode Island has been a leader in marine spatial planning thanks to the efforts of CRC, which Rhode Island Sea Grant has been proud to support. I congratulate CRC on this grant from the Moore Foundation that will help this team share best practices with professionals around the world,” said Rhode Island Sea Grant Director Dennis Nixon.

The current work will assist other communities and allow Rhode Island practitioners to bring new techniques back to the state. 

“We believe smart ocean planning can protect both economic interests and biological resources for generations to come,” said Barry Gold, program director for the Moore Foundation’s Marine Conservation Initiative. “Rhode Island is a leader in ocean planning, and we’re excited to see how CRC can leverage their local experience to help improve sustainable management of oceans around the globe.”