Our Impacts: 2015

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N.H. Sea Grant tracks the program's research and extension impacts on the state and region each year and submits this information to the National Sea Grant Office. The following items highlight our impacts from 2015.

Recap: The shellfish aquaculture industry spawned over the years in the Great Bay Estuary with very direct N.H. Sea Grant guidance is providing fresh and local seafood to the region and helping area fishermen make a living while also contributing $1.5 million in services to the estuarine environment by removing excess nutrients from the estuary.

Relevance: Over the past few years, a great deal of attention has been focused on the impaired water quality of the Great Bay Estuary, particularly on the need to reduce nutrient inputs. One element of this has been a concern that aquaculture development in the area would exacerbate the problem.

Response: N.H. Sea Grant has been working for many years to help develop an aquaculture industry in the region, both to assure a supply of quality seafood and to help local commercial fishermen find ways to earn a living while remaining on the water. Various studies have shown that shellfish remove nutrients, including phosphorous, carbon and nitrogen, from their environment 24/7 through their filter feeding. Because of this, N.H. Sea Grant has been particularly interested in developing shellfish aquaculture in the estuary, both in the form of oyster farms and multi-trophic aquaculture, which combines fish, seaweed and blue mussels.

Results: A NOAA Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment study performed during 2014 validated N.H. Sea Grant’s approach to reducing nutrient inputs into the Bay. The study placed a value of $1.1-1.3 million on the ecosystem services that the current level of shellfish aquaculture provided the Great Bay Estuary by removing excess nutrients from the estuary, and further estimated that the value could triple with future expansion. In 2015, over 100,000 additional oysters were placed into bottom cages. Based on the 2014 study, this increase in filter feeding oysters raises the value of the ecosystem services from shellfish aquaculture to $1.5 million.

Recap: N.H. Sea Grant staff developed a one-week professional development workshop for middle and high school teachers attended by 17 N.H. middle and high school teachers, resulting in the development of one high school and three middle school lessons, two of which were used in schools to increase ocean literacy.

Relevance: Successful implementation of the Pew Ocean Commission report’s recommendations and NOAA’s plan to increase ocean literacy requires educators in formal, pre-K through grade 12 settings to be trained in both marine science concepts and the new Next Generation Science Standards.

Response: In 2015, N.H. Sea Grant staff developed a one-week professional development workshop for middle and high school teachers that occurred at the Shoals Marine Laboratory on Appledore Island in Maine, a field-based marine education facility. The workshop was designed to provide teachers with field-based training in marine concepts, training in lesson plan development based on the Next Generation Science Standards, and the opportunity to work in grade level groups to prepare a lesson to be used during the 2015-2016 school year.

Results: Seventeen New Hampshire middle and high school teachers participated in the weeklong workshop taught by N.H. Sea Grant staff, resulting in the development of one high school and three middle school lessons to be used in the 2015-2016 school year. Teachers from two of the four groups have reported using the lesson in their schools, thus increasing students’ ocean literacy.

Recap: N.H. Sea Grant-trained docents provided over $95,000 worth of services to three N.H. marine education centers in 2015, enabling the centers to provide high quality marine science programs to a wide range of visitors, programs that the centers wouldn’t be able to provide without this assistance.

Relevance: Providing marine education is an important step in increasing understanding of the marine environment and the challenges it faces and in fostering a sense of stewardship of our coastal resources.

Response: The Seacoast Science Center, Gundalow Company and Great Bay Discovery Center are marine education organizations in New Hampshire with a combined visitorship of over 80,000 per year. The Seacoast Science Center is a site-based, informal education center that specializes in rocky shore programming in Rye. The Gundalow Company is a boat-based maritime history and environmental education program in Portsmouth, and the Great Bay Discovery Center is the educational center of the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and N.H. Fish and Game specializing in estuary education and located in Greenland. All three are able to complete their missions with the assistance of UNH Marine Docents who are trained and coordinated by N.H. Sea Grant.

Results: The docents apply their Sea Grant training to provide programs and support to the three organizations, enabling the centers to significantly reduce the cost of programming staff and increase the number of programs they can provide and visitors they serve. Docents provided over $95,000 worth of services to the three organizations during 2015.

Recap: In 2015, based on their determination that male-specific coliphage is an effective indicator of viruses in shellfish beds located near wastewater treatment plants, N.H. Sea Grant researchers worked with a working group from the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference to integrate male-specific coliphage into the National Shellfish Sanitation Program Guide.

Relevance: N.H. Sea Grant researchers funded by a NOAA Sea Grant Aquaculture Research National Strategic Investment determined that male-specific coliphage (MSC) is an effective indicator of viruses in shellfish beds located near wastewater treatment plants. The Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference held an informational meeting about MSC that was based on the results of this study.

Response: In 2015, the MSC working group from the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference Growing Area Committee worked out the details to effectively integrate MSC into the National Shellfish Sanitation Program Guide, particularly in Chapter IV (Growing Areas) and Chapter V (Relay), with additional work ongoing to incorporate the findings into Chapter XV (Depuration). The researchers and partners spent a substantial time in conference calls and attending the conference meeting in October 2015 working through the results of the research project.

Results: The incorporation of MSC research results into the National Shellfish Sanitation Program Guide indicates its acceptance as an assessment tool for wastewater treatment plants and their potential impact on nearby shellfish beds. This research is helping to frame policy changes that will better protect human health.

Recap: During 2015 N.H. Sea Grant staff provided significant leadership to a STEM collaborative in N.H. which contributed important feedback to the N.H. governor’s STEM Task Force and was recognized by the task force for those contributions. Two members of the collaborative have gone on to STEM leadership roles in the state.

Relevance: In 2014, the Governor of New Hampshire created a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Task Force to provide recommendations to increase the number of STEM-trained students to help meet the employment needs of N.H. technology and engineering companies. The presidents of the universities in the University System of New Hampshire also pledged to double the number of STEM graduates from their institutions.

Response: During 2015, N.H. Sea Grant continued to facilitate the development of a statewide science, technology, engineering and math education collaborative organization called STEM NH. It is comprised of representatives from N.H. schools, institutions of higher learning, STEM professional development providers, and state government. The goal of the organization is to develop local solutions to the STEM pipeline workforce development challenge.

Results: STEM NH contributed significant feedback to the governor’s task force, and was recognized by the task force for those contributions. One member of STEM NH was subsequently named to a second task force charged with guiding the implementation of the task force, and another STEM NH member was hired by the N.H. Department of Education to lead its science programs.

Recap: N.H. Sea Grant researchers facilitated the duplication of lab analyses in 2015 that helped the state of Connecticut to re-open shellfish growing areas more quickly after viral contamination, thus allowing for faster economic rebound within the state’s aquaculture industry.

Relevance: N.H. Sea Grant research determined that male-specific coliphage (MSC) is an effective indicator of viruses in shellfish located near wastewater treatment plants. In 2015, a series of small leaks and breaks in multiple sewage collection systems in Connecticut forced the closure of a large part of the state’s shellfish growing areas, thus impacting the Connecticut aquaculture industry. The state’s shellfish program tried to re-open areas using MSC sample analyses, but elevated MSC levels were apparent in the first round of laboratory analyses.

Response: N.H. Sea Grant researchers funded by a NOAA Sea Grant Aquaculture Research National Strategic Investment facilitated the duplication of sampling efforts in 2015 to see if a different certified lab using MSC analyses found the same elevated results.

Results: The second lab results indicated low MSC levels at all sampling sites, and a review of the Conn. laboratory data suggested a subtle cross contamination problem that biased the first lab’s results. The result of this investigation allowed the state of Connecticut to re-open the shellfish growing areas and get the industry back in business in fewer than 21 days.

Recap: In 2015, over 300 citizen scientist volunteers participated in N.H. Sea Grant’s Coastal Research Volunteer program, collecting data for a variety of scientific projects which resulted in seven researchers at least doubling the magnitude and frequency of data collection while providing meaningful learning experiences for volunteers.

Relevance: The continued development and human use of New Hampshire’s natural resources results in significant ecosystem impacts, but many environmental issues in the N.H. Seacoast are not being fully addressed because of limited resources available for scientific studies and the accompanying lack of capacity by local scientists and agencies to conduct robust studies. At the same time, local citizens are becoming more aware of problems that threaten the N.H. Seacoast and are increasingly motivated to see problems resolved.

Response: Founded in 2012 by N.H. Sea Grant, the Coastal Research Volunteer (CRV) Program is a collaboration between citizens and scientists who work together on research projects in the Seacoast and surrounding areas. Volunteers are trained then work with researchers to collect data and accomplish project goals.

Results: In 2015, 312 citizen scientists participated in N.H. Sea Grant’s CRV program, collecting data for scientific projects on oyster restoration, glass eel monitoring, stream health surveys, riparian buffer restoration, fish surveys, phenology monitoring and sand dune restoration, allowing seven researchers to at least double the magnitude and frequency of data collection. In a 2015 survey of CRV participants, 97% reported increased knowledge as a result of training and research activities. Comments included that volunteers gained “valuable professional development experience,” and the skills learned helped them “become a better scientist and educator.” In addition, 91% reported making an impact in their community due to CRV involvement, for example stating that they were “contributing to acquisition of valuable information that will help inform decisions” about resource management, and contributing to “enhanced environmental awareness and activism among residents of N.H. Seacoast communities.”

Recap: Participation of N.H. Sea Grant’s Coastal Research Volunteers in local coastal research projects resulted in a savings of over $113,000 in research costs to local scientists.

Relevance: Scientists often lack the needed resources for conducting scientific research at the desired temporal or spatial scales. In addition, many scientists are uncertain how to meaningfully accomplish goals for outreach and engagement.

Response: N.H. Sea Grant’s Coastal Research Volunteer (CRV) Program mobilizes volunteers to work with scientists on coastal research projects in New Hampshire and nearby areas. N.H. Sea Grant, along with project partners (e.g., University of New Hampshire, N.H. Fish and Game, The Nature Conservancy) train volunteers for each project, and work side-by-side with volunteers to collect data and learn about coastal issues.

Results: CRV involvement in research projects provided the help needed to conduct coastal research as well as provided an economic savings to researchers by offsetting the need for paid staff. Through the use of CRV participants as unpaid field help, in 2015 local researchers achieved an estimated economic savings of over $113,000 in contributed time to the following programs: oyster restoration, glass eel monitoring, stream health surveys, vegetated buffer restoration, fish surveys, phenology monitoring, and sand dune restoration.

Recap: N.H. Sea Grant’s marinecareers.net website continues to be a valuable resource for students seeking information on careers in the marine sciences, helping to broaden students’ vision of the opportunities available in the marine science fields.

Relevance: Marine science is a popular career choice, however students often focus on marine biology and working with marine mammals because they are unaware of the numerous other possibilities that exist in the marine sciences.

Response: Using profiles of a wide array of marine professionals in marine biology, ocean engineering, oceanography, social and policy science, and other related marine fields, the website marinecareers.net was created in 1998 to provide information about the many different career possibilities available to students interested in marine science. The site, administered by N.H. Sea Grant, also contains resources relating to education, careers, internships, and a quiz to help students determine which marine career field might be a good fit.

Results: During 2015, marinecareers.net had over 230,000 visitors from all 50 states and most foreign countries. More than 100 site visitors responded to a survey, with almost all respondents indicating that the site was helpful in making decisions regarding a career in the marine sciences. Visitors stated that the site was “cool,” “very informative and helpful,” and “an eye opener.” Over 27,000 people took the site’s marine career interest quiz in 2015 to assess their interest in the various career fields.

Recap: N.H. Sea Grant extension specialists support N.H. fishermen and consumers who formed New Hampshire Community Seafood, a business that processes and delivers locally harvested seafood. The program expanded to sell over 40,000 pounds of seafood in 2015, bringing over $10,000 more profit to fishermen than they would receive from regional seafood auctions, supported two jobs and led to formation of a second seafood business.

Relevance: At a local scale, fishermen in the Gulf of Maine struggle to find markets that support their businesses. Traditional seafood markets often pay the highest prices for species that have the strictest limits on how much fishermen are allowed to catch (e.g., Atlantic cod) and the lowest prices for more abundant species (e.g., spiny dogfish). In addition, fishermen are able to catch and sell fewer pounds of marketable species due to reductions in how much they can catch in response to disappointing stock assessments.

Response: In 2013, N.H. fishermen and seafood consumers organized New Hampshire Community Seafood, which processes and delivers seafood to individuals, restaurants and other seafood buyers in the region. N.H. fisheries extension specialists, one of whom has an advisory position on the Board of Directors, supported this effort extensively. The program pays fishermen 25 cents more per pound than they would receive from regional seafood auctions.

Results: In 2015, the cooperative expanded to sell over 40,000 pounds of local seafood to individual buyers, restaurants, fish markets and to a local hospital, resulting in $10,000 in increased profits for fishermen. The business supported one full-time manager for the entire year and a second employee for eight months of the year. The success of the program led to the formation of a second local seafood business by a former N.H. Sea Grant intern called New England Fishmongers.

Recap: With assistance from N.H. Sea Grant, oyster aquaculture and aquaculture that incorporates trout, mussels and kelp on the same platform continue to expand in N.H., creating businesses and jobs, and building a sustainable seafood industry in New England.

Relevance: Sea Grant emphasizes the importance of building a safe and sustainable domestic seafood supply. This is especially significant since wild capture fisheries have plateaued at less than 100 million ton per year since the 1990s. In addition, fishery management measures have greatly decreased bag and size limits, making it difficult for fishermen to stay in business.

Response: New Hampshire Sea Grant has aided fishermen, entrepreneurs and students with state permitting and culture methods for marine aquaculture. Species grown locally include oysters, blue mussels, steelhead trout and sugar kelp. Funds were awarded to UNH and N.H. Sea Grant to design, build and test an open ocean, integrated multi-trophic aquaculture platform which incorporates the culture of multiple species (trout, mussels and kelp) on the same platform. When in close proximity, the mussels and kelp extract excess nutrients produced by the fish, benefiting the ecosystem. This type of small-scale, environment-friendly aquaculture is well suited for fishing communities and seafood business operators in New England.

Results: In 2015, oyster aquaculture in N.H. increased from 14 to 19 sites covering 47 acres. Oyster sales doubled to $207,000 with an expected doubling again in 2016. There are about 6.7 million oysters growing, with a net value of over $4.5 million. The integrated multi-species aquaculture demonstration site used by UNH and N.H. Sea Grant to train fishermen on aquaculture produced $14,000 in revenue and provided over 2000 pounds of mussel seed to a mussel farm. These mussels will be ready for market in 2016. In 2015, with assistance from N.H. Sea Grant, aquaculture efforts in the state created three new businesses and sustained 13, created three new jobs, and continues to employ 24 people full- or part-time.

Recap: A Northeast regional effort developed and refined a decision-support methodology for the evaluation of socio-economic tradeoffs in coastal and marine spatial planning that was used regionally and locally.

Relevance: Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (CMSP) is a process for improving the management of coastal and marine resources in order to promote their sustainable development. Sustainability necessitates that decisions be made about the existing and future spatial and temporal distributions of human uses (and non-uses) of the coastal and marine environment. Such decisions require methods for making tradeoffs. Existing state-level planning efforts, particularly in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, have been designing approaches for making CMSP tradeoffs, but these methods are still emergent.

Response: Researchers funded by the Northeast Sea Grant Consortium developed an economic methodology based on models of spatially distributed regional economic impacts to characterize the tradeoffs among alternative CMSP policies. A secondary objective demonstrated the practical utility of the methodology using ecological and socio-economic data relating to the coastal ocean of the U.S. Northeast region.

Results: Northeast Regional Sea Grant Consortium funding was instrumental in positioning the research team to make useful contributions to decision support regionally within the context of the activities of the Northeast Regional Ocean Commission (NROC), and locally within the context of fisheries mitigation for the siting of wind generators at Deepwater Wind’s Block Island Wind Farm. The project resulted in several oral presentations, posters, and publications and supported eight graduate students and one law student.