NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) recently announced $3.6 million in grants through the Species Recovery Grant Program. Funding will go to assist 10 coastal states and two federally recognized tribes with conservation projects designed to recover marine mammals, sea turtles and fish species listed under the Endangered Species Act.
Eleven proposals were chosen from a pool of 29 applications submitted by states, and two proposals were selected from a pool of six applications submitted by federally recognized tribes.
Authorized under Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act and the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, the Species Recovery Grants Program supports management, research and outreach efforts designed to bring listed species to the point where ESA protections are no longer necessary.
The following list includes 13 projects selected with the total amount of federal funding approved for each award, and the portion of federal support provided this fiscal year.
Each project requires several years to complete, as well as additional funding. Funding for additional years is contingent on future appropriations and satisfactory progress of the work planned.
1) Alaska Department of Fish and Game ($1,385,410; $527,810): Identifying the level and prevalence of mercury and organochlorine contamination in the endangered western Steller sea lion population to assess potential links between continued declines and anthropogenic contaminant sources.
2) Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission ($822,715; $248,855): Expanding research and conservation efforts benefiting all five species of sea turtles occurring in Florida’s waters: loggerheads (Caretta caretta), hawksbills (Eretmochelys imbricata), green turtles (Chelonia mydas), Kemp’s ridleys (Lepidochelys kempii), and leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea).
3) Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission ($605,384; $201,594): Collecting data on fine-scale habitat use by juvenile smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) and their responses to varying freshwater inflow. Data will inform management decisions regarding minimum flows and levels for rivers, maximum discharge regulations from Lake Okeechobee, dissolved oxygen criteria, hardened shoreline criteria, and oyster restoration strategies.
4) Georgia Department of Natural Resources & South Carolina Department of Natural Resources ($1,623,962; $368,610, Georgia/ $135,670, South Carolina): Supporting a multi-state genetic mark-recapture project for loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) to estimate population size of nesting females annually and assess population status, characterize threats, and develop management strategies to assist the recovery of loggerhead sea turtles.
5) Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources ($964,443; $22,000): Preventing and documenting incidents of Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) and green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) disturbance by beach-goers and other ocean users; improving public support, understanding, and participation in “seal friendly” and “turtle friendly” practices; designing and conducting a pilot, shoreline, recreational fishery observer program; and drafting a joint State-Federal Hawaiian green turtle population assessment and monitoring protocol.
6) Maine Department of Marine Resources ($1,027,754; $548,304): Supporting the removal of the first migratory barrier on the Penobscot River, the Veazie Dam, to open 100% of the historic habitat for endangered shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) and threatened Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) as well as help restore 11 species of sea-going fishes, including endangered Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar).
source: NOAA Fisheries