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Virginia CZM Program: 2014 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

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Virginia Commonwealth University

Project Title:

Virginia Ocean Plan: Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator 

Project Description as Proposed:

Virginia Commonwealth University will provide an Environmental Scientist/Analyst to serve as the VA Ocean Planning Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator.  The Stakeholder Coordinator will work with  DEQ’s Community Involvement Specialist under the direction of the Virginia CZM Program Manager (see Task 95.02), to continue the engagement of the Virginia ocean stakeholders through personal contact, public meetings, PGIS workshops and other techniques to refine the offshore ocean management objectives for various uses such as commercial and recreational fishing, energy development, conservation, sand mining, military activities, and transportation. VCU and DEQ staff will also advance implementation of the Virginia Marine Debris Reduction Plan (VMDRP).  

The VCU staff will be a primary point of contact for coordinating, outreach and engagement of ocean stakeholders, arranging and establishing meetings, and communicating with sector stakeholders. Outreach and facilitation of stakeholder meetings will be summarized and analyzed such that a Virginia perspective on management objectives will be available for informing the National Ocean Council’s Mid-Atlantic “Regional Planning Body.”  

Partnering with the Monmouth Project Team, the staff will assist with the data analysis and outreach to the Ports, Renewable Energy developers, Defense, Fishing community, Recreational users and Transportation sectors when such sectors are contacted regarding Virginia-based activities.

During the previous grants (FY11,12 and 13), extensive efforts were conducted to advance the development of the VMDRP including a Summit, strategic planning exercises and a social science-based approach to develop the Plan. The focus under this contract will be implementation of actions identified in the VMDRP through strategic partnerships with the Longwood University Clean Virginia Waterways, Virginia Aquarium, VA Sea Grant, VIMS and the DEQ Pollution Prevention Program and others. A particular focus for FY14 will be refinement and implementation of strategies that may result in new enforceable policies such as the seeking of authority from Virginia’s General Assembly for local governments to adopt local ordinances that would result in reduction of marine debris.

The Coordinator will participate in the MARCO Action Teams as needed but particularly the Ocean Mapping & Data Team (which works with stakeholders to develop and vet data) and Water Quality (which intends to work on marine debris issues).  The Coordinator will also assist the VA CZM Manager with work undertaken for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body.

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Todd Janeski, 804.828.2858;

Project Status:

10/1/14 - 9/30/15; Project Completed

Final Product Received:

Virginia Ocean Plan and Atlantic Sturgeon EMF Study (PDF)

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

The VCU Environmental Scientist/Analyst, as retained by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Coastal Zone Management Program, served as the Ocean Planning Stakeholder Coordinator for the grant reporting period under the VACZM Section 309 Ocean Resources Strategy. During this period, two primary tasks were undertaken: Ocean Stakeholder Engagement and the analysis of electromagnetic field impacts on sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus).


The VCU Ocean Planning Stakeholder Outreach (OPSE) Coordinator worked with the CZM Director, the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission and the seafood industry to engage the commercial fishing industry to better understand those areas most used for commercial purposes. The OPSE Coordinator conducted outreach and communication to the commercial sector in a meaningful manner through an on-the-ground approach of direct engagement of commercial fishers. Through this direct, personal engagement process, the industries contacted included those from the spiny dogfish, conch, scallop, black seabass, menhaden and pelagic fisheries. The specific focus was the vetting of the Community at Sea Maps. The OPSE Coordinator focused on the ports of Virginia Beach, Newport News, and Hampton to vet the grouped gear types of dredge, gillnet, and pots and traps. Additionally, during the reporting period, the OPSE Coordinator prepared for the initiation of the Collaborative Fisheries Planning in the VA Wind Energy Area (WEA) Project through direct communication and coordination with project team members and industry representatives. The OPSE Coordinator began to communicate with representatives outside of the state of Virginia, guided by the interpreted data from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Draft Fisheries Exposure report. Those data identify the ports from the states of North Carolina to Massachusetts which are fishing in the VA WEA.          

A partnership between the VCU Center for Environmental Studies and the VCU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering forged to conduct the sturgeon study. VCU Engineering modeled, designed, and built a high-precision Magnetic and Electromagnetic (M/EM) Field Generator as well as an array of magnetometers (sensors) that allowed researchers to track and record M/EM values continuously during each experiment. In the laboratory, sturgeon biologists from the VCU Center for Environmental Studies utilized visual tracking software and data gathered by high-speed cameras to quantify and evaluate a range of fish behaviors in response to magnitude and orientation of M/EM fields.

Results of the study suggest that, under laboratory conditions, the types and ranges of M/EM fields to which Atlantic Sturgeon were exposed in the laboratory did not result in biologically relevant changes to simple behaviors in sub-adult individuals. Hence, these results are not consistent with the hypothesis that localized M/EM fields from anthropogenic sources—specifically benthic HV cables—in coastal ocean habitats may negatively impact behavior of migrating or foraging wild Atlantic Sturgeon.


Disclaimer: This project summary provides the federal dollars initially awarded to the grantee. Due to underexpenditure or reprogramming of grant funds, this figure may change. For more information on the allocation of coastal grant funds, please contact Laura McKay, Virginia Coastal Program Manager, at 804.698.4323 or email:

A more detailed Scope of Work for this project is available. Please direct your request for a copy to

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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