Community awareness, risk prevention and education are key components in all MAREX programs, both past and present.
The University of Georgia Marine Extension Service designs applied research, extension and outreach projects to address coastal community issues.
Increasing communication and collaboration between fishermen, scientists, managers, conservationists and the public is one of our goals. We seek practical solutions to problems that involve both protecting coastal resources and sustaining local livelihoods.
Past projects include:
In February, 2007 MAREX prepared and delivered six emergency oil spill containment kits to coastal Georgia fishhouses.
Soon after on the morning of March 1st, the shrimp boat Captain Jack began sinking.
Oil/fuel absorbing materials from two MAREX containment kits were immediately deployed.
Deployed: 300 feet of overlapping oil/fuel absorbent boom, 63 oil and fuel absorbent pillows and over 100 bilge socks.
The bilge socks harden as they absorb the red diesel fuel. The boom, pillows and bilge socks are all non-toxic, non-carginogenic and harmless to wildlife.
In the afternoon MAREX offered more supplies to the boat's captain and volunteer crew.
Although the spill was already well contained, 150 additional feet of boom was deployed. Even in a storm with countless tasks to accomplish, the Captain and crew made pollution prevention a top priority.
The following day at low tide, enough water was pumped out to raise the Captain Jack to the surface.
Oil Spill Prevention and Bilge Socks
Dockside interviews along the coast revealed that fishhouse owners and shrimpers are very receptive and enthusiastic about gaining access to information and materials for emergency oil spill containment.
MAREX put together emergency oil and fuel spill containment kits and distributed the barrels to docks along the coast. Immediately afterwards, a shrimp boat sank next door to the MAREX office.
While their words revealed their interest, the quick response of fishermen to the Captain Jack revealed the countless benefits of having kits readily available at docks. The first responders in these emergencies will always be fishermen. Georgia's shrimpers have asked MAREX to help them be better prepared.
Boys and Girls Club Recycling Contest
MAREX initiated a recycling contest to introduce members of local Boys and Girls Clubs to the harmful impacts of marine debris. Before this project, none of the local clubs recycled and many of the children had never heard of recycling.
In this four month pilot study, 800 children (kindergarten to teen) collected bottles and cans. The director of the McIntyre Boys and Girls club said that, before this contest, they were known as the "problem club." During this contest, this club showed impressive initiative, using the recycling program as motivation to clean up litter from local parks and a neighboring housing project. McIntyre Court won the contest in all categories.
In all, five clubs in Glynn County collected 1,000 pounds of recycling in six months. Through their hard work, the children earned prizes and educational events including visits from live baby alligators, snakes, and turtles. The grand prize winners earned an afternoon at the beach, which for many children was their first time in the ocean.
As an incentive-based program promoted by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the “Clean Marina Initiative” seeks to protect coastal water quality through voluntary compliance.
Varying between states, all Clean Marina Programs provide pollution prevention and reduction technical assistance to local governments, recreational boaters and marina operators.
MAREX implemented a national Clean Marina Program (CMP) that reduced the amount of nonpoint source pollution in coastal Georgia counties through voluntary marine business compliance.
MAREX specialists asked marinas to participate in the program and provided technical support. Project goals were (1) to help marinas prevent water pollution, (2) to recognize marinas for doing so, and (3) through publicity, show boaters which marinas participated in the program.
Diamondback Terrapin Excluders
Diamondback terrapin are the only estuarine turtles in the United States. Once numerous populations have been depleted due to overfishing, driven in part by the popularity of turtle soup.
Terrapin are no longer harvested commercially in Georgia, but current threats include habitat loss, pollution, predation, road kills and incidental drowning in crab traps. This species is not federally protected, but it is listed as a “species of Concern” in Georgia. Terrapin can live to be almost 50 years old.
Diamondback Terrapin Project
In order to address the concerns about terrapin drowning when they enter crab traps, MAREX tested the effectiveness and feasibility of using excluder devices to keep terrapin out of traps.
MAREX completed the third year of data collection in the Terrapin Excluders In Crab Pots Study. View the “Three year report (2003, 2004, 2007)”.
Recreational Crabber Collaborative Study
Preliminary studies showed that recreational crabbers using commercial style pots may have an even greater chance of encountering terrapin than commercial crabbers due to the location of their traps. MAREX worked with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to promote a collaborative study with recreational crabbers.
Terrapin Excluders in Commercial Crab Pots
A commercial crabber volunteered to test the three most promising excluder designs. He reported rarely encountering terrapin in his crabbing territory, but he worked with MAREX staff to determine if crab catch was affected by the excluders. In order for terrapin excluders to be viable in the commercial fishery, they must not affect the number or the size of crabs caught.
Join us! If you have even a few crab pots, help us test the performance of an easy-to-install excluder.
Fuel Efficient Trawl Doors
In the Region
Studies conducted by Gary Graham of Texas Sea Grant showed fuel savings between 25-30% during actual fishing conditions. Fisheries extension agents in Mississippi reported similar success: new models cut fuel consumption from around 30 gallons/hour during harvesting to about 19 gallons. With this level of fuel saving potential, new doors would pay for themselves within approximately six months. In addition, preliminary studies in Louisiana showed that vessels using cambered doors used 50% less horsepower while maintaining the same level of drag (DNR, 2005).
Here in Georgia
In the Southeast, shrimp boats tend to be smaller than those in the Gulf fishery. Therefore, modified doors needed to be tested here to determine if local shrimpers might benefit from the new door designs. It was likely that fuel savings would not be as dramatic as in the Gulf, due to the smaller scale of the fishery.
In addition, the South Atlantic fishery targets white shrimp, which requires much more turning and fishing of a “tight” bottom. Doors needed to be tested here to determine their performance under local conditions.
Preliminary results from South Carolina were promising. One South Carolina shrimper reported fuel savings between 2– 3 gallons per hour using cambered doors (Cooke, 2006). As he puts it, with 20% fuel savings, every fifth trip he makes is free.
What's the plan?
Here in Brunswick, the University of Georgia Marine Extension Service (MAREX) tested the doors aboard our research vessel, the R/V Georgia Bulldog.
We will determine the fuel saving potential of the doors, as well as the possible effects on shrimp landings. We want your input! Once we have some results, we'll host a workshop to tell you about the work. Meanwhile, if you want more information, please call us or come by anytime!
Would cambered doors help GA shrimpers?
Cambered doors may reduce operating costs and last longer than aluminum or wooden doors, but they are also more expensive. Shrimpers interested in making an investment in this fuel saving gear should have all the facts.
Invasive Flathead Catfish
MAREX faculty and staff members hosted "Taste the Invasion," an event to raise awareness about the invasive flathead catfish - a fish that has caused significant environmental harm to the Altamaha River ecosystem since its introduction decades ago.
More than 40 fishermen, managers, scientists, teachers and other members of the public participated in a four species wild catfish taste test at Skipper's riverfront restaurant in Darien, GA. Results of the blind taste test revealed that the most popular catfish was actually the invasive flathead catfish. Participants tested their taste buds and answered questions about native and invasive species to win prizes. Among favorite prizes were t-shirts with the slogan: "If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em!"
Fishing Line Recycling
MAREX established 82 monofilament recycling stations in coastal Georgia as part of a Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) funded Marine Debris project. At the project end, four boxes of monofilament line and nets weighing 64 lbs were sent to Berkley® a national monofilament manufacturer cooperating with the project.
MAREX faculty members coordinated collection efforts by community volunteers. A 60-second PSA explaining the monofilament recycling stations was created and aired on local cable television systems.
In 2008, nearly 3000 Boat U.S. “Stash Your Trash” brochures were distributed to monofilament partners and Georgia’s ten largest coastal marinas.
Marine Debris Outreach: Recreational and Commercial Fishermen
MAREX developed educational materials showing the consequences resulting from discarding debris into the environment and to highlight MAREX’s efforts to reduce this influence. Staff gave presentations to the Georgia Shrimpers Association, the Georgia Marine Business Association, the Georgia Marine Fisheries Advisory Council and to members of the Coastal Conservation Association.
Crabbers discussed a new issue contributing to increased plastic in local waterways. While bait boxes were previously coated with wax, a large distributor in Virginia has now switched to unwaxed boxes, adding a plastic bag to contain the menhaden. Since the bait boxes become bloody and smelly as bait thaws, they are often discarded overboard before they reach the shore. Even crabbers who avoid littering note that boxes and bags often blow overboard.
Now, with the addition of plastic bags in every box, the amount of trash going into the rivers is likely to increase. Crabbers discussed potential solutions such as working with distributors to explore the use of biodegradable corn-based plastic bags. Further studies could include experiments to determine how corn-based bags react when frozen, and how long they take to break down in coastal waters.
Wild Georgia Shrimp
The Wild Georgia Shrimp Certification Program is a system developed by the Georgia Shrimp Association to promote Georgia shrimp as a premium product, ensure consistent quality and prevent the mislabeling of shrimp products.
To do this, the program informs consumers about the differences between Wild Georgia Shrimp and imported pond-raised shrimp and conducts statewide marketing efforts and a certification program.
The program guarantees that the products labeled Wild Georgia Shrimp are a species indigenous to the clean coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean, caught by local shrimp fisherman, and landed at a certified facility in Georgia. To find out more about the program, visit www.wildgeorgiashrimp.com.