Virginia CZM Program: 2016 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:VA CZM logo

94.01

Grantee:

Virginia Commonwealth University

Project Title:

Virginia Ocean Plan

Project Description:

Virginia Commonwealth University will provide an Environmental Scientist/Analyst to serve as the VA Ocean Planning Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator.  The Stakeholder Coordinator will work under the direction of the Virginia CZM Program Manager 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, shipping and recreation.

The Stakeholder Coordinator will be a primary point of contact for coordinating, outreach and engagement of ocean stakeholders, arranging and establishing meetings, and communicating with sector stakeholders to implement the Ocean Action Plan (OAP). 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 Ocean Data Portal Team and MARCO’s Ocean Data Information Manager, the Stakeholder Coordinator will assist with obtaining data from the Ports, Renewable Energy developers, Defense, Commercial fishing community, Recreational users and Transportation sectors when such sectors are contacted regarding Virginia-based activities.

The Coordinator will participate in MARCO Action Teams as needed but will also directly support the VA CZM Manager that serves as the Regional Planning Body State Co-Lead addressing emerging issues, researching relevant topics, providing policy input and analysis to advance the Ocean Action Plan.

Federal Funding:

$60,000

Project Contact:

Todd Janeski, 804.828.2858, tvjaneski@vcu.edu

Project Status:

10/1/16 - 12/31/17; Project Completed

Final Product:

Virginia Ocean Plan (PDF)
Electromagnetic Field Effects on Marine Fishes in the Mid-Atlantic (PDF)

Project Summary:

For the Project Reporting period, the Environmental Scientist/Analyst with the Virginia Commonwealth University, Center for Environmental Studies in the Department of Life Sciences continued to serve as the Ocean Planning Stakeholder Engagement (OPSE) Coordinator to the VA Coastal Zone Management Program at the VA DEQ. During the reporting period, the OPSE Coordinator continued to work with the commercial fishing industry in support of the VA efforts to advance the Mid Atlantic Ocean Plan. These opportunities continue to strengthen the relationship between the offshore commercial fishing industry and the VA Coastal Zone Management Program.

The OPSE Coordinator worked with the Marine Life Data Analysis Team (MDAT) to synthesize, analyze and document changes in species geographic range for black sea bass (Centropristis striata) and summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus). Through extensive communications with the VA Marine Resources Commission, the OPSE Coordinator sought to obtain Virginia-based, fisheries data relevant to the catch, based on communications with staff at VMRC indicating those catch data would inform conclusions about changes in catch location. Coordination with Duke University and The Nature Conservancy was implemented sharing that the VA Marine Resources Commission indicated those data could be made available for such conclusions but may require analysis to ensure the Rule of 3 is not broken, ensuring data protection standards and landings data are available to the mid-1990s. After significant communication with the MRC, data delivered did not meet the request only providing year, species and harvest gear. After extensive work with MRC to further refine the querry, and despite VMRC staff indicating those data were available to make conclusions about the changes in catch location of certain species, those data as they relate to the Waters Areas identified (Ocean, Seaside Eastern Shore and Misc Seaside (VMRC Systems 1 - 3)) were not made available due to confidentiality issues.

The OPSE Coordinator communicated with the commercial fishing industry, specifically the fixed-gear sector, to reopen the dialogue on gear loss due to ship strike. Due to changes in the points of contact representing the various gear types, difficulties establishing a dialogue had proven challenging to continue the conversation. The goal of such interaction was to record and formally document gear loss with the outcome of minimizing economic impacts to each industry and with the potential to maximize their activities. Further work could be explored and options to identify additional areas of navigation that seasonally might have a higher incidence of potential ship-strike and impacts on the commercial fishing industry.

The OPSE Coordinator researched electromagnetic field impacts on commercial fisheries including threatened and endangered fishes for the purpose of developing a communication piece for the industry translating research on those impacts. The work was initiated based on the research conducted at VCU on EMF impacts on sturgeon expanded to include black sea bass, summer flounder, tautog, channeled whelk, knobbed whelk, American lobster, pelagic species, broader boney fishes and elasmobranchs (sharks and rays).The OPSE Coordinator added capacity by bringing a VCU Research Assistant Intern to collect and synthesize relevant published, peer-reviewed papers to further understand the breadth of research associated with the topic. Chesapeake Environmental Communications was hired to develop the layout and design.

The OPSE Coordinator who sits on the BOEM Offshore Renewable Energy Task Force attended the meeting in Virginia Beach on December 7, 2017. This meeting Orsted, previously known as Dong Energy, was present as Dominion Energy’s developer of the VOWTAP area and reported on progress made toward a 2020 deployment of the two test turbines in the leading edge of the VA Wind Energy Area (WEA). Recommendations were shared with Dominion and Orsted to follow the process outlined in the Collaborative Fisheries Management Project and Best Management Practices, funded by BOEM and the VA DMME. Further work with the offshore wind industry began to define the opportunities for the OPSE Coordinator to begin to serve as an interim Fisheries Representative. 

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:Laura.McKay@deq.virginia.gov

A more detailed Scope of Work for this project is available. Please direct your request for a copy to Virginia.Witmer@deq.virginia.gov or April.Bahen@deq.virginia.gov.

 

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


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