Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Significant Impacts, 2017

Maryland Sea Grant is making a difference.

Maryland Sea Grant projects have produced significant results that aided fishers, businesses, policy makers, and conservation volunteers in Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay region.

Here are highlights of our program's impacts and accomplishments in 2017. These summaries describe scientific research; extension and public outreach; and education and communications efforts.

The highlights are grouped by these four broad focus areas in Maryland Sea Grant's strategic plan:

A cornerstone of our program is to continually evaluate and report on the real-world impacts of our projects. These projects are drawn from our annual report for 2017 to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (NOAA), one of our major funders. You can read our reports about our impacts and accomplishments in years before 2017 in a searchable database (scroll down) at NOAA's National Sea Grant College program.

 

Resilient Ecosystem Processes and Responses

Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative Uses Data to Plan for Effects of Sea Level Rise. The Maryland Sea Grant Extension Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative (CBSSC) coordinator completed a comprehensive assesment of data collection and research capacity at the core CBSSC sites. The coordinator also collaborated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop a water level training course and piloted it with 13 participants. The program is now being adopted for use by all U.S. sentinel sites. (Details)

Researchers Investigate How the Decreased Trapping Capacity of the Conowingo Dam Will Affect Submerged Grass Beds. Scientists in Maryland investigated one of the greatest submerged grass bed recoveries in the northern Chesapeake Bay area near the Conowingo Dam. They discovered the important role grasses play in controlling sediments flowing over the dam and provided key data to managers of the dam and its reservoir. (Details)

Researcher Examines Best Practices for Managing Biodiversity and Blue Carbon in the Face of Barrier Island Migration and Sea Level Rise. Congress and wildlife refuge managers are briefed on the importance of salt marshes, which serve as an excellent habitat for a variety of estuarine species and a sink for carbon. But that may change as barrier islands move. (Details)

Researchers Examine Aerator's Role in Increasing Oxygen in Chesapeake Bay Tributaries. Researchers advise managers in Maryland's Anne Arundel County how to improve river aeration systems to upgrade water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. (Details)

Understanding Genetic Diversity in Sea Grasses May Improve Restoration Success. An ecologist and a geneticist have teamed up to study the genetic diversity among wild celery plants, an important sea grass, to determine which genetic types will grow best in the Chesapeake Bay. (Details)

Maryland Sea Grant Supports Mid-Atlantic Invasive Species Research and Outreach. Maryland Sea Grant helped lead and manage the Mid-Atlantic Panel on Aquatic Invasive Species' research, education, and outreach grants program. A recent study on invasive pathways demonstrated the potential costs and societal impediments to managing invasive species. (Details)

 

Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

Business Specialist Helps Entrepreneurs to Finance Oyster Growing Operations. A Maryland Sea Grant Extension Program aquaculture business specialist helped oyster farmers obtain low-interest loans to build and grow oyster aquaculture businesses. In 2017, applicants received $305,575 in loan commitments from the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO). (Details)

Maryland Sea Grant Extension Specialist Helps Industry Produce Safe Seafood. A Maryland Sea Grant Extension Program (MDSGEP) seafood specialist trained more than 100 people in safety procedures for shipping, handling and processing seafood. (Details)

Scientists and Entrepreneurs Collaborate to Resolve Aquaculture Industry Challenges​. Maryland Sea Grant organized two meetings that brought aquaculture entrepreneurs together with scientists, extension agents, state government and federal partners to determine ways to remove obstacles that have hampered the Maryland aquaculture industry's growth in the Chesapeake and coastal bays. The first meeting focused on hearing the concerns of oyster farmers; the second took those concerns to scientists who considered potential remedies to the industry's problems. The scientists then developed collaborative proposals with industry. (Details)

Chesapeake Fisheries Management Benefits from Maryland Sea Grant Economist's Expertise. A fisheries resource economist with Maryland Sea Grant Extension provided expertise and analysis to help inform policies and management practices that the region's fishery managers and councils can use to ensure these multiple users get the maximum benefit of fisheries. (Details)

Extension Specialists Provide Training and Technical Support to Build Maryland's Oyster Aquaculture Industry. Maryland Sea Grant Extension specialists helped advise public policy in 2009 to develop a new shellfish lease program, which by 2017 led to issuance of 409 leases on 6,600 acres and more than 170 jobs. (Details)

 

Resilient Communities and Economies

Extension Agents Develop a Manual to Train and Certify Landscape Professionals in Reducing Runoff. Increased urbanization can cause water quality and quantity problems. Landscaping and restoration practices are a solution. Maryland Sea Grant Extension has developed a Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional Certification program, which has trained 300 individuals to tackle the problem. (Details)

Watershed Stewards Academies: Train the Trainer Program Helps Clean the Waters of the Chesapeake Bay. In 2017 Maryland Sea Grant Watershed Specialists and their partners continued their Watershed Stewards Academies (WSA), which empower residents to improve stream water quality. In 2017, WSA successes included: graduating 60 new stewards; building 51 new projects to treat 54,720 square feet of impervious surface; planting 9,305 native plants; educating 3,334 individuals; and involving 177 volunteers. (Details)

Extension Agents Help Small Communities and Local Governments Secure Grants for Improving Water Quality. In 2017, Maryland Sea Grant's Watershed Specialists helped Maryland communities secure $404,298 in grants, resulting in a reduction of 461 pounds of nitrogen, 205 pounds of phosphorous and 347,580 pounds of total suspended sediments from stormwater. (Details)

Study Improves Predictions on Storm Surge, Sea Level Rise and Considers Approaches to Reduce Flooding. New models of sea level rise for parts of the Chesapeake Bay demonstrate increased risk of storm surge flooding in Baltimore, Annapolis and Washington D.C., if bay shoreline is hardened and low- lying areas can no longer flood. (Details)

Researchers Use Geo-Spatial Analysis and Collaborative Learning to Assess and Mitigate Risk from Climate Change on the Eastern Shore. A team of anthropologists, scientists, planners, and residents identified and mobilized government agencies to address flooding problems from shoreline erosion and clogged drainage ditches on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The results include a $1 million commitment to build a living shoreline to minimize erosion and county agreements to increase ditch cleaning and maintenance to reduce flooding. (Details)

Homeowners Resist Installing Stormwater Best Management Practices Because of Mosquito Concerns. Homeowners and renters may be reluctant to use stormwater best management practices (BMPs) for fear of causing more mosquitoes in their yards. In this first study to rigorously enumerate mosquito infestation in disconnected downspouts in Maryland, researchers found downspouts harbored few human-biting mosquitoes. Residents' perceptions of higher risks were largely unfounded and printed educational materials did little to change behavior regarding stormwater management. (Details)

Extension Faculty Develop Website and App to Record, Track, and Map Stormwater Best Management Practices. Urban stormwater is a major contributor to pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland Sea Grant extension specialists have developed a mechanism to record progress in reducing stormwater pollution through an easy-to-use website and app. (Details)

Maryland Sea Grant Tackles Climate Change in Multiple Areas. Maryland Sea Grant supported research and outreach to increase planning, understanding, and dialogue to address effects of climate change in the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland's coastal bays regions. (Details)

Investigating the Drivers of Commercial Fishermen's Entry into Aquaculture. Maryland's oyster aquaculture industry adds oysters to the bay and is developing alongside an active public oyster fishery. One aim is to encourage commercial fishers, or watermen, to try aquaculture. This study set out to determine why watermen hesitate to do so and how best to address their reluctance. (Details)

 

Effective Environmental Science Education

Maryland Sea Grant Publishes Decoding the Deep Sediments as Part of its Chesapeake Perspectives Series​. Maryland Sea Grant publishes a book series, Chesapeake Perspectives, that goes deeper into a topic than we can in our magazines, blog posts and shorter publications. This one is a retrospective of Dr. Grace Brush's work, which examined sediment cores in the Chesapeake to understand how changes in land use since Colonial settlement affected water quality. (Details)

Maryland Sea Grant Supports Career-Building Fellowships for Graduate Students. Maryland Sea Grant sponsors graduate fellowship programs that train qualified students in marine science through participation in research and policy activities. From 2014 to 2017, 26 students received support to conduct research projects at seven Maryland institutions, and 15 students were placed in federal offices as Knauss Marine Policy Fellows. (Details)

Maryland Sea Grant Helps National Marine Educators Association Grow and Thrive. Maryland Sea Grant serves as the home for the National Marine Educators Association. During this partnership, NMEA's membership has increased and it has saved money and improved efficiencies through office organizational improvements led by Maryland Sea Grant. (Details)

Maryland Sea Grant Teams Up with Gothenburg University on Innovative K-12 Education Program. Through an international partnership, more than a hundred students and teachers from Sweden, Norway, Germany, Spain, Maryland, and South Carolina share data, collaborate through video-conferencing, and participate in experiential science education. Maryland integrates part of its long-running biofilms and biodiversity education program with both national and international partners. (Details)

Maryland Sea Grant Supports Research and Career Development for Diverse Groups of Undergraduate Students. Maryland Sea Grant developed and led undergraduate research programs in Maryland and Puerto Rico and provided funding to support students at scientific meetings. From 2014 to 2017, these efforts exposed more than 180 students to graduate research opportunities, professional networks and the latest research, thus increasing opportunities to succeed in scientific careers. (Details)

Aquaculture in Action Education Program Advances Student Learning and Teacher Professional Development in Project-Based Science. Maryland Sea Grant leads teacher professional development workshops and individual school consultations to improve the content knowledge, practical skills, and pedagogical skills through Sea Grant's highly successful, student-driven, project-based learning science program Aquaculture in Action. (Details)

Communication Products Explore Chesapeake Bay Science and Cultural Topics in Depth. Chesapeake Quarterly magazine and our social media presence inform the general public and the management community about topics relevant to the Chesapeake Bay's restoration and conservation. (Details)

 

Project Details

Resilient Ecosystem Processes and Responses

Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative Uses Data to Plan for Effects of Sea Level Rise

Summary: The Maryland Sea Grant Extension Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative (CBSSC) coordinator completed a comprehensive assesment of data collection and research capacity at the core CBSSC sites. The coordinator also collaborated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop a water level training course and piloted it with 13 participants. The program is now being adopted for use by all U.S. sentinel sites.

Relevance: During the last century, relative sea level has risen more than a foot in the Chesapeake Bay. To record such changes, federal, state, and private entities collect long-term data at monitoring stations around the Bay. These environmental data sets can be useful to municipal planners and natural resource managers who need to anticipate and prepare for the predicted effects of climate change, particularly tidal marshes response. Yet, no comprehensive assessment of what data are being collected and no consistent methodology for collecting water level data exist.

Response: In 2017, the Maryland Sea Grant Extension Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative coordinator worked to increase collaboration among CBSSC partners and improve data sharing across sentinel sites to help managers understand the regional effects of climate change. Partners included local, state, and federal agencies, academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, local communities, and regional organizations. Sentinel sites collect longitudinal data, including marsh elevations, water levels, water quality, and vegetation type and distribution.

Results: In 2017, the coordinator completed a “Data and Infrastructure Inventory and Summary Report.” The report describes the current state of infrastructure build-out across the cooperative's sentinel sites. The report compiles the core monitoring elements [e.g. water level gauging, water quality monitoring, Surface Elevation Tables (SET), meteorological data, vegetation sampling, vertical control networks, etc.], provides a gap analysis, and discusses how the data are used across the sites. It provides suggestions on how to overcome challenges and limitations when working with sentinel site data. The CBSSC also established a SET & Wetland Monitoring Working Group to synthesize data collected at sentinel sites and identify research gaps. In addition, the coordinator worked with NOAA to develop a water level training pilot course to help coastal practitioners and researchers better understand sources of error in water level data. The two-day pilot course had 13 participants representing five agencies and institutions with 13 organizers and trainers. Adjustments were made after the pilot was completed and the water level training was offered to different cooperatives in the United States.

See more information about this project.

 

Resilient Ecosystem Processes and Responses

Researchers Investigate How the Decreased Trapping Capacity of the Conowingo Dam Will Affect Submerged Grass Beds

Summary: Scientists in Maryland investigated one of the greatest submerged grass bed recoveries in the northern Chesapeake Bay area near the Conowingo Dam. They discovered the important role grasses play in controlling sediments flowing over the dam and provided key data to managers of the dam and its reservoir.

Relevance: The reservoir behind the Conowingo Dam, on the Susquehanna River at the top of the Chesapeake Bay, historically trapped nutrients and sediments from the river, but the reservoir is filling with mud and losing its ability to do so. Maryland public officials are highly concerned about the reservoir and dam's future and looking to its owner, a utility company, to manage the sediments before issuing it a multi-year license. Controlling the sediment coming into the bay is important for Pennsylvania and Maryland to meet Environmental Protection Agency Total Maximum Daily Load requirements to reduce sediment pollution. Managers need information to understand if the recent expansion of sea grass beds below the dam helps remove these sediments from the water.

Response: A team of researchers with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science was curious about the potential rebound and impact of reduced sediment trapping by the Conowingo Dam. They knew that elsewhere in the Chesapeake Bay the presence of grasses can correlate with clear water and increase the amount of sunlight reaching shallow bay bottom. The researchers designed a study to learn how the amount and type of sediment coming over the dam might affect submerged aquatic grasses, water clarity and the flow of sediments below the dam. The study focused on a large seagrass bed known as the Susquehanna Flats (SF) located downstream of the Conowingo Dam.

Results: Four of the five sites in the SF seagrass bed showed higher sedimentation rates when grasses were present. Scientists determined muddy sediments are trapped by the grasses because of the reduced current and wave energy in grass beds, suggesting that the Susquehanna Flats helps prevent mud from traveling farther down the Bay. The study, among the first to consider sediment transport from the Susquehanna River to upper Chesapeake Bay since the reduced trapping by the Conowingo Dam began, will help public officials protect grass beds and advise management decisions regarding the dam and its reservoir.

See more information about this project.

 

Resilient Ecosystem Processes and Responses

Researcher Examines Best Practices for Managing Biodiversity and Blue Carbon in the Face of Barrier Island Migration and Sea Level Rise

Summary: Congress and wildlife refuge managers are briefed on the importance of salt marshes, which serve as an excellent habitat for a variety of estuarine species and a sink for carbon. But that may change as barrier islands move.

Relevance: Sea level rates in the Chesapeake and coastal bays are rising at about twice the national average. Climate change is making storms more intense. This combination is changing barrier islands, which serve as a protective buffer between land and sea and support a tremendous amount of biodiversity and economic activities on the islands themselves and in calm back-barrier waters. To keep the sands from constantly shifting, some barrier islands are nourished with new sand. Typically, barrier islands are managed to protect island property and promote tourism, rather than preserve their role in storing carbon and providing for biodiversity in back-barrier marshes and lagoons. But researchers weren't sure if the islands could continue to serve as a carbon sink in the face of sea level rise, more frequent over-washing, and climate change.

Response: Researchers in Washington, D.C. worked with partners in Virginia, Delaware, and New Jersey to examine barrier island migration and its effects on carbon sequestration and capture, as well as ecosystem services. Their goal was to develop a model to guide managers on what to expect in terms of barrier island migration and back-barrier change and how that will affect plant biodiversity and the marshes' role as a carbon sink. The model will provide insight on how best to safeguard biodiversity and conserve the carbon captured by these ecosystems, also known as blue carbon.

Results: These researchers are developing maps of carbon distribution in the back-barrier marshes and an understanding of how marsh carbon is expected to change with barrier island migration. Managers can use this information to decide whether it is wise to nourish barrier islands, given possible tradeoffs in back-barrier ecosystems services when the islands are prevented from migrating. The researcher briefed Congress on findings on how sea level rise changes landscapes and seascapes, and has met with wildlife refuge supervisors about how sea level rise affects the carbon sink on Assateague Island in Maryland, a major tourism destination.

See more information about this project.

 

Resilient Ecosystem Processes and Responses

Researchers Examine Aerator's Role in Increasing Oxygen in Chesapeake Bay Tributaries

Summary: Researchers advise managers in Maryland's Anne Arundel County how to improve river aeration systems to upgrade water quality in the Chesapeake Bay.

Relevance: The Patapsco River in Baltimore, is a highly polluted estuary inlet of the Chesapeake Bay. In 1988, engineers installed an aeration system in one of its tributaries, Rock Creek, to improve water quality. The system pumps air into the water, which mixes with oxygen-rich surface waters to prevent low-oxygen conditions. Researchers are studying Rock Creek to determine how phytoplankton growth and nitrogen and phosphorus recycling changes with alterations to the oxygen concentrations, and how fast the system responds to low-oxygen events. Before aeration, Rock Creek, which runs through Anne Arundel County, had too little oxygen and too much algae, which fueled the growth of plankton. When the plankton died, the bacteria used all available oxygen to decompose the dead plankton, and then used sulfate to continue decomposition. The byproduct of the resulting reactions was hydrogen sulfide, which caused a rotten-egg smell that residents found unpleasant. Fish could not survive in the waters. The aerators changed that, pumping 15,000 liters of air per minute into the water.

Response: In 2017, Maryland Sea Grant supported researchers who wanted to quantify the benefits and determine to what extent the level of dissolved oxygen changed how nitrogen and phosphorus were recycled in the water column and sediments. If nutrient recycling were to increase under low oxygen conditions, each molecule of nutrient discharged into the creek would have more opportunities to grow plankton, stalling restoration efforts. Researchers from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Chesapeake Biological Lab conducted field experiments, turning off the aeration systems for a day and up to a week to monitor biological activity in Rock Creek as oxygen conditions collapsed. The researchers have since added a carbon component to their study, to examine how the metabolism (or breathing in and out) of the estuary changes with aeration.

Results: They found that oxygen disappeared almost entirely within 24 hours after the aerators were turned off, and the area of depleted oxygen expanded far beyond the aerated region. Managers throughout the Chesapeake Bay seeking to increase oxygen in tributaries and reduce nitrogen could expand the tools available to do so. The researchers are advising Anne Arundel County managers as they work on a new aeration system, and their information is intended to help the Rock Creek community apply for additional restoration funding to further clean up the creek.

See more information about this project.

 

Resilient Ecosystem Processes and Responses

Understanding Genetic Diversity in Sea Grasses May Improve Restoration Success

Summary: An ecologist and a geneticist have teamed up to study the genetic diversity among wild celery plants, an important sea grass, to determine which genetic types will grow best in the Chesapeake Bay.

Relevance: Bay grasses provide habitat for crabs and benthic organisms, as well as hiding places for larger fish trying to evade predators. The grasses help clean the water by slowing flows enough for sediment to settle to the bottom. For many decades, grass beds were greatly reduced or even eliminated from much of their historic range in the Chesapeake Bay, primarily due to poor water quality. When populations are so drastically reduced for so long a time, genetic diversity can be lost. Without genetic diversity, the grasses have limited potential for acclimation and adaptation to novel conditions. Natural resources managers have expended great effort for many years to plant new beds. But some of those beds did not thrive because of lack of light penetration, and possibly because of sensitivity to climate change, higher temperatures, or other factors.

Response: Wetland ecologist Katharina Engelhardt and botanist Maile Neel worked with several students on a Maryland Sea Grant funded project to examine Vallisneria americana grass beds in the Chesapeake and see how diverse they are genetically, how that impacts their growth, how connected the grass beds are, and how to replicate growth successes. In addition, the researchers were curious to see how plant diversity is distributed within and among sea grass populations. Determining if wild celery had limited genetic diversity in Bay grass beds is paramount to understanding the potential for future resilience. They also sought to determine if plants from different parts of the Bay grew better under their “home” conditions or if they could be planted more broadly without negative consequences.

Results: The team now has numerous genetic clones of the Vallisneria americana from the Chesapeake and can subject the different genotypes to varying conditions, including less light and higher temperatures. As they continue to develop this information and map out which beds are successful where, they can help inform decisions on where public entities should plant grasses and expand the success of sea grasses in the Bay.

See more information about this project.

 

Resilient Ecosystem Processes and Responses

Maryland Sea Grant Supports Mid-Atlantic Invasive Species Research and Outreach

Summary: Maryland Sea Grant helped lead and manage the Mid-Atlantic Panel on Aquatic Invasive Species' research, education, and outreach grants program. A recent study on invasive pathways demonstrated the potential costs and societal impediments to managing invasive species

Relevance: The introduction of non-native species to ecosystems can cause both economic and ecological harm. The most effective way to prevent introductions is to control the pathways or vectors through which unwanted, nuisance aquatic species enter a new environment. Invasive species know no boundaries and preventing their introduction, locally to globally, is most effective when policy-makers and scientists coordinate and collaborate.

Response: Maryland Sea Grant has long funded and led research, education, and outreach on the most effective ways to prevent the introduction of non-native species into our waterways. We support these efforts at local and regional scales through several partnerships. For example, Maryland Sea Grant has provided ongoing leadership to Mid-Atlantic Panel on Aquatic Invasive Species (MAPAIS), a regional panel mandated under the National Invasive Species Act, and led regional research efforts in partnership with mid-Atlantic Sea Grant programs and scientists.

Results: Since 2012, Maryland Sea Grant staff have overseen management of the annual MAPAIS competitive grant program and served on the MAPAIS executive committee since it was established. The grant program distributes about $35,000/year in support for research, education, and outreach efforts that address aquatic invasive species problems in the region. In 2017, the MAPAIS funded five projects through Maryland Sea Grant, for a total of 19 projects (2012-2017). One such project from 2017 explored the costs associated with invasive species (e.g. green crabs, periwinkles) in bloodworm (Glycera dibranchiate) packing material. Bloodworms are used as live bait and are typically packed in brown algae (Ascophyllum nodosummarine or wormweed). Previous Sea Grant funded research found considerable risk of introducing unwanted species through brown algae while other packing materials lowered invasive risk without affecting bloodworm survival. The MAPAIS researchers led an economic analysis, which found that the optimal cost strategy would be to eliminate or change the packing material (e.g. to paper). The study found such a change would incur no additional cost to the product. However, the research also showed that if suppliers were to switch to a wormweed-free method of shipping without their customers' consent, demand for their product would likely drop. Thus, recreational fishermen's preference for wormweed packing is an obstacle to reforming practice in the industry and reducing the hazard of aquatic invasive species introductions.

See more information about this project. 

 

Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

Business Specialist Helps Entrepreneurs to Finance Oyster Growing Operations

Summary: A Maryland Sea Grant Extension Program aquaculture business specialist helped oyster farmers obtain low-interest loans to build and grow oyster aquaculture businesses. In 2017, applicants received $305,575 in loan commitments from the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO).

Relevance: The Chesapeake Bay oyster fishery was historically the nation's protein factory. Its oysters went via train from Baltimore all over the country. But disease, over-harvesting, and pollution have brought oysters to less than 1 percent of their estimated historic peak. In 2009, Maryland changed its laws to make oyster aquaculture legal statewide. Shellfish aquaculture offers new employment opportunities and an alternate source of income for traditional wild oyster harvesters and entrepreneurs. With oyster aquaculture, Maryland may be able to improve estuarine water quality, promote biodiversity, and provide jobs. To build an aquaculture business, watermen need access to capital that they can't get from a traditional bank, and expertise in how to grow a business unfamiliar to them.

Response: Since 2011, Matt Parker, MDSGEP's aquaculture business specialist, has helped commercial watermen and other applicants learn how to prepare business plans necessary to apply for financing for aquaculture businesses. MARBIDCO, a quasi-public corporation, provides loan guarantees for these aquaculture entrepreneurs.

Results: In 2017, the Maryland Sea Grant Extension specialist provided assistance to three applicants in the loan program who requested and received $175,575 in loans. The specialist is a member of the MARBIDCO loan review board who approved an additional $130,000 in loans for a 2017 total of $305,575 in MARBIDCO loan commitments. Between 2014 and 2017, the specialist has contributed direct assistance to help oyster growers submit 14 applications to MARBIDCO, which approved about $787,120 in loans to support the Maryland oyster aquaculture industry. Since 2014, MARBIDCO has lent money to 24 projects totaling $1,565,248 from the shellfish loan fund, meaning the specialist has provided assistance in more than half of the cases. All of the companies he has helped are still in business, and many have paid back the loans. 

 

Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

Maryland Sea Grant Extension Specialist Helps Industry Produce Safe Seafood

Summary: A Maryland Sea Grant Extension Program (MDSGEP) seafood specialist trained more than 100 people in safety procedures for shipping, handling, and processing seafood.

Relevance: The Chesapeake Bay's oysters, crabs, and fish support seafood businesses that are economic drivers of Maryland's coastal economies, generating millions of dollars and employing hundreds of people. But many of these businesses are small, and struggle to keep up-to-date on government regulations for safely handling and shipping seafood. The consequences of not keeping up with such training can be severe. Every year, one in six Americans (or about 48 million people) become ill from food-borne diseases; 3,000 die from this exposure. If regulators trace an outbreak back to an oyster or a batch of crabmeat, customers may decide to stay away from all such products for years to come. The Chesapeake has suffered few such outbreaks, in part because of companies' diligence in keeping up with relevant safety training.

Response: Since 2014, MDSGEP's seafood technology specialist provided training to 283 individuals in Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), which is the mandated government procedure for managing, controlling, and identifying food safety hazards in processing operations. Those who complete the HACCP course receive certification. The specialist visits companies to assist them with calibrating equipment and demonstrates safe seafood processing techniques. In addition, the specialist supervises the Maryland Crabmeat Quality Assurance and Inspection Program plant inspector and helps the industry remain current with all safety regulations. The extension specialist provides reports and recommendations to the industry from those observations.

Results: The MDSG seafood safety program successfully provides small companies access to seafood safety expertise and support that would otherwise be unaffordable, but are essential to keep their businesses thriving and ensure the public has access to safe seafood. In a 2017 survey, 94 percent of respondents said they would recommend the MDSG extension specialist's seafood program to friends and colleagues. The specialist provided 168 reports for companies detailing the microbiological status of their operations and recommendations for how they could maintain good seafood quality. 

 

Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

Scientists and Entrepreneurs Collaborate to Resolve Aquaculture Industry Challenges

Summary: Maryland Sea Grant organized two meetings that brought aquaculture entrepreneurs together with scientists, extension agents, state government, and federal partners to determine ways to remove obstacles that have hampered the Maryland aquaculture industry's growth in the Chesapeake and coastal bays. The first meeting focused on hearing the concerns of oyster farmers; the second took those concerns to scientists who considered potential remedies to the industry's problems. The scientists then developed collaborative proposals with industry.

Relevance: Maryland has been slower than other states to adapt to shellfish aquaculture, and finfish aquaculture remains limited primarily due to economic constraints. A decade ago, only a handful of oyster farms existed, and many counties had laws so restrictive that new ones could not open. In 2009, the state legislature changed the law and allowed shellfish aquaculture in every county. As of 2017, more than 170 oyster farmers had leased more than 6,600 acres of Maryland's part of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The value of that fishery, according to the state Department of Natural Resources, is $5 million. Oyster farmers report several factors are limiting their ability to expand. They include unexplained oyster mortality, a lack of suitable alternatives to shell as substrate, and the need for automated equipment that could improve cost-effective, local, shucking facilities for the spat-on-shell growers. Finfish aquaculture remains constrained by economics and environmental concerns.

Response: Because oyster farmers and other growers who are not yet in the aquaculture business have expressed interest in expanding the industry beyond oysters, Maryland Sea Grant proposed conducting two workshops to listen to oyster farmers' needs and to connect them with researchers to propose studies to help the industry improve its practices and consider other ways to expand aquaculture in Maryland. More than 30 people attended the first session, and more than 75 were at the second. Attendees included engineers, geneticists, marine biologists, policymakers, extension agents, and aquaculture farmers. Farmers and researchers discussed a number of priorities, including expanding aquaculture into razor clams, aquaponics, finfish aquaculture, and seaweed. Survey results showed that attendees found the meetings to be valuable.

Results: Maryland Sea Grant established effective partnerships between industry, regulators, and scientists that can help aquaculture thrive in Maryland. We provided a briefing book for attendees as well as a list of funding opportunities that allow aquaculture entrepreneurs and researchers to submit proposals together. Policymakers from state and federal regulatory agencies were also able to interact with growers and talk about hurdles that can be lowered or removed to encourage more shellfish aquaculture in the state. Industry and researchers identified needs and possible solutions to improve cage and oyster shucking technologies. A number of teams were formed with the intent of writing and submitting proposals for funding .

See more information about this project. 

 

Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

Chesapeake Fisheries Management Benefits from Maryland Sea Grant Economist's Expertise

Summary: A fisheries resource economist with Maryland Sea Grant Extension provided expertise and analysis to help inform policies and management practices that the region's fishery managers and councils can use to ensure these multiple users get the maximum benefit of fisheries.

Relevance: Effective management of Maryland's commercial fisheries requires a basis in high-quality science. This includes economic analysis, which seeks to determine the net social benefits of fisheries management decisions. For example, economic analysis provides an evidence-based method to allocate fisheries resources between competing interests. The Chesapeake Bay's fisheries have provided benefits to a variety of Marylanders, including watermen, seafood processors and consumers, and recreational and sport fishers.

Response: In 2017, the Maryland Sea Grant Extension Program's (MDSGEP) fisheries resource economics specialist, Jorge Holzer, provided scientific review and economic analysis about the direction of fisheries management strategies and policies in the Chesapeake Bay and the mid-Atlantic region.

Results: At the request of the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council, the MDSGEP's economist provided scientific review for a study of how summer flounder catches on the U.S. East Coast are allocated between recreational and commercial fisheries. The study will inform the management of the summer flounder fishery, which includes the Chesapeake Bay. The specialist also advised the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission on an ongoing socioeconomic assessment of the menhaden fishery on the Atlantic coast, including review of a survey to be administered to fishermen and communities as part of the study. MDSGEP's economist continues to serve as a member of the Chesapeake Bay Program's Sustainable Fisheries Goal Implementation Team to support sustainable Chesapeake Bay fish populations through ecosystem-based fisheries management. 

 

Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

Extension Specialists Provide Training and Technical Support to Build Maryland's Oyster Aquaculture Industry

Summary: Maryland Sea Grant Extension specialists helped advise public policy in 2009 to develop a new shellfish lease program, which by 2017 led to issuance of 409 leases on 6,600 acres and more than 170 jobs.

Relevance: Maryland oyster production benefits the state's seafood industry, which exists largely in rural waterfront communities with limited employment options. Shellfish filtration improves water quality in the Chesapeake and coastal bays and provides habitat for many other biofiltering species. Populations of the eastern oyster C. virginica have fallen to less than 1 percent of historic levels. The shellfish water column and bottom leasing program supports the region's economy and improves environmental quality. The Horn Point hatchery's efforts to restore oyster reefs helps both habitat, natural populations and wild harvest. Both are crucial to rebuilding oysters for economic and ecological benefits.

Response: In 2017, Maryland Sea Grant Extension Program (MDSGEP) Specialist provided watermen and seafood processors with production and business skills through the Oyster Aquaculture Education and Training Program, conducting 22 workshops, short courses, and field demonstrations attended by 217 participants. This extensive vocational education and training, supported by Sea Grant and other funding sources, helps watermen, entrepreneurs, and seafood processors transition into or expand shellfish aquaculture businesses. Our extension agent aided the expansion of the Remote Setting Training Program, which teaches growers to produce seed for planting their leases regularly. The Horn Point Oyster Hatchery managed by Maryland Sea Grant Extension agent collaborates with multiple partners in the production and planting of millions of seed oysters.

Results: These collaborative efforts helped Maryland’s oyster aquaculture industry to expand. Attendance grew at trainings from 31 growers producing 186 million in seed oysters in 2014 to 45 growers producing 269 million seed oysters in 2017. Thirty-eight setting systems were placed in eight locations around the Bay with growers allowed to sign up and use them for two-week periods during summer, getting free larvae and set evaluations in 2017. Our MDSGEP extension agent is the current Chairman of the state’s Aquaculture Coordinating Council, which advises the legislature on oyster policy. The state now has 409 active leases covering 6,600 acres which support more than 170 jobs, pushing the value of Maryland’s Chesapeake and coastal bays oyster aquaculture to $5 million. An additional 145 leases are in process, owing to the popularity of the program; DNR officials credit Sea Grant extension specialists with helping those numbers grow. In 2017, the Horn Point Oyster Hatchery produced 1.7 billion oyster spat for large-scale restoration of wild populations and to partially support commercial oyster aquaculture production. 

 

Resilient Communities and Economies

Extension Agents Develop a Manual to Train and Certify Landscape Professionals in Reducing Runoff

Summary: Increased urbanization can cause water quality and quantity problems. Landscaping and restoration practices are a solution. Maryland Sea Grant Extension has developed a Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional Certification program, which has trained 300 individuals to tackle the problem.

Relevance: Stormwater runoff from developed areas remains a key source of water pollution to the Chesapeake Bay. Since 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency has mandated, under a Total Maximum Daily Load requirement, that municipalities reduce pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. City and county officials tally stormwater best management practices and estimate how much pollution was reduced by installing a certain practice. But if the practice was not installed correctly, the tally is likely incorrect as well. Without a standardized list of practices, how to install them, and how large a reduction to expect, managers would have a difficult time calculating their stormwater pollution-reduction benefits.

Response: Maryland Sea Grant Extension's watershed specialists, along with many other partners, developed a training manual and certification program that provides a consistent set of standards across all practices, and outlines how much of a reduction in pollutants a community can expect after implementing certain practices. Landscape professionals who have completed the program earn a certificate, which functions as a “seal of approval” for customers and local governments who now know the practitioners are using sustainable design, installation, and maintenance practices.

Results: Since the program was put in place in 2016, the Chesapeake Bay Landscaping Program has trained 300 professionals and certified 233 professionals in level one training and 35 in level two advanced training; about 60 percent of these results occurred in 2017. The professionals in the program have installed rain gardens, restored streams, erected living shorelines, put in riparian buffers, and swapped out impervious paving for porous materials. These practices have reduced nitrogen by 775 pounds; phosphorus by 370 pounds; and sediment by 509,929 pounds. The Chesapeake Bay watershed has a growing workforce of trained landscape professionals who know not only how to install practices to reduce pollution, but how effective they will be. 

 

Resilient Communities and Economies

Watershed Stewards Academies: Train the Trainer Program Helps Clean the Waters of the Chesapeake Bay

Summary: In 2017 Maryland Sea Grant Watershed Specialists and their partners continued their Watershed Stewards Academies (WSA), which empower residents to improve stream water quality. In 2017, WSA successes included: graduating 60 new stewards; building 51 new projects to treat 54,720 square feet of impervious surface; planting 9,305 native plants; educating 3,334 individuals; and involving 177 volunteers.

Relevance: The Chesapeake Bay watershed is under a mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce sources of pollution in all of its tributaries over the next decade. The fastest growing source of pollution is from urban and suburban stormwater runoff. Volunteers can lead efforts to restore streams, clean up refuse, install rain gardens, plant buffers, and secure grant funding for more such projects. If government officials can identify a group of leaders, they can use those volunteers to sustain community involvement, build projects in the ground, and maintain those projects with a corps of volunteers.

Response: Maryland Sea Grant Extension Specialists partnered with not-for-profit watershed groups and local governments in five counties plus the Washington, D.C. region to start Watershed Stewards Academies. These academies train volunteers with weekly field work and in-classroom activities over 12 to 18 months on community outreach and the installation of rain gardens, rain barrels, pervious pavers, and other practices that will reduce nutrient and sediment pollution from stormwater, which would otherwise enter rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. The stewards finish the program with a capstone stormwater management project that demonstrates what they learned.

Results: In 2017, the Watershed Stewards Academies graduated 60 new stewards and resulted, cumulatively, in 51 new projects that treated about 54,722 square feet of impervious surface. In all, they planted 9,305 native plants, educated 3,334 individuals, and engaged 177 volunteers. The program, which started in 2010 with one academy, now includes six counties with plans for further expansion and new academies across the state. The result will be even more stormwater management practices in the ground and more committed volunteers who understand how to install them and what can make a difference in water quality.

 

Resilient Communities and Economies 

Extension Agents Help Small Communities and Local Governments Secure Grants for Improving Water Quality

Summary: In 2017, Maryland Sea Grant's Watershed Specialists helped Maryland communities secure $404,298 in grants, resulting in a reduction of 461 pounds of nitrogen, 205 pounds of phosphorous and 347,580 pounds of total suspended sediments from stormwater.

Relevance: The Chesapeake Bay's Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), established in 2010, mandates that communities in the region improve water quality in rivers and streams. Maryland is dotted with hundreds of small municipalities and unincorporated areas that operate with limited funds, and many do not have the capacity to meet TMDL requirements to put programs in place that will reduce runoff from stormwater; manage stormwater cleanup projects; or pursue grants that will keep those projects sustainable over time. That is particularly true on Maryland's Eastern Shore, an area with many waterways and small towns that lack the financial resources to address nutrient and sediment pollution. The Chesapeake Bay TMDL requires all counties to hit certain cleanup milestones; failure to do so can further damage the environment.

Response: Improving water quality in Maryland bays is a priority for Maryland Sea Grant’s five Watershed Restoration Specialists. They do this by providing technical assistance to local communities and governments to meet their TMDL targets through help with grants and reports; conducting field work; informing jurisdictions and organizations about upcoming grant and professional development opportunities; serving on advisory groups and planning committees; managing projects; holding one-on-one consultations; educating about social marketing techniques; connecting groups with similar interests; organizing and conducting site visits; organizing community workshops; and teaching classes.

Results: The outreach programs in 2017 resulted in 88 direct teaching hours with 614 participants. The agents worked on grants, provided direct participation or management, or wrote letters of support that resulted in grant assistance to 22 organizations that reached 33 homeowners who either installed or maintained 43 stormwater management practices. Watershed specialists also distributed 260 rain barrels, and conducted 17 workshops about stormwater management. The agents continue to mentor community members, speak to government and nonprofit groups, and work to build more capacity for pollution-control techniques on the Eastern Shore.

 

Resilient Communities and Economies

Study Improves Predictions on Storm Surge, Sea Level Rise and Considers Approaches to Reduce Flooding

Summary: New models of sea level rise for parts of the Chesapeake Bay demonstrate increased risk of storm surge flooding in Baltimore, Annapolis, and Washington D.C., if bay shoreline is hardened and low-lying areas can no longer flood.

Relevance: Sea level rise in Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic region has occurred two times faster than the worldwide average over the past two decades. Researchers need to be able to map the risks and provide those data to city and town managers, but they also need to be able to tell them which strategies work best for resilience, and where action should be taken, depending on the tidal ranges and site topography.

Response: A University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point Laboratory scientist looked at whether sea level rise increased or reduced tidal ranges in the Chesapeake Bay, and whether hardened or soft shoreline protection would be the better response to protect property and habitat. The scientist collaborated with a Salisbury University scientist; together they are developing a database of static and animated digital images to illustrate the problem and where it is most prevalent. They will then deliver the data to city and town managers and to members of the public concerned about the risks. The work seeks to predict, overall, how much sea level rise will inundate the coast, and which parts are most vulnerable.

Results: Researchers’ sea level models suggest that allowing low-lying areas to become flooded reduces overall inundation around the Chesapeake Bay better than hardening shorelines. The models suggest that if all shorelines were hardened, it would cause increased storm surge for a Category 2 storm by 50-80 centimeters. This strategy of designating certain low-lying areas for inundation could help as Baltimore, Annapolis, and Washington, D.C. continue their efforts to become more resilient in the face of climate change and rising sea level. It could also lower the costs, allowing money that would be spent on hardened shorelines to be used elsewhere.

See more information about this project.

 

Resilient Communities and Economies 

Researchers Use Geo-Spatial Analysis and Collaborative Learning to Assess and Mitigate Risk from Climate Change on the Eastern Shore

Summary: A team of anthropologists, scientists, planners, and residents identified and mobilized government agencies to address flooding problems from shoreline erosion and clogged drainage ditches on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The results include a $1 million commitment to build a living shoreline to minimize erosion and county agreements to increase ditch cleaning and maintenance to reduce flooding.

Relevance: Many rural Eastern Shore communities are not incorporated, and have no elected officials who live in their midst and understand their needs, making it hard for communities to receive attention from government agencies. In many cases, these communities are on low-lying land and feel disproportionately the effects of flooding. Communities need guidance to discuss and understand their flooding and erosion risks, which are primarily due to rising sea level because of climate change. These towns often lack information about financing adaptation strategies to reduce their risk. In addition, they need assistance to connect with emergency planners and government officials.

Response: The Maryland Sea Grant funded team and its partners combined science, modeling and stakeholder knowledge to collect community-level data to support adaptation planning. Key components included building cultural consensus within communities and conducting social network analysis. These methods empower communities to work together and identify important groups and/or individuals critical to adaptation success. Team members conducted surveys and workshops with communities and identified two key issues of concern: shoreline protection and ditch maintenance. They are using geo-spatial and experiential knowledge to assess threats and mitigate against them. Together, they are figuring out the best adaptation strategies for a culturally rich region that is nonetheless in danger of losing its communities.

Results: This collaborative effort helped guide the state of Maryland to plan a living shoreline project to minimize local erosion and make the communities more resilient. The $1 million project includes removal of invasive species and a dune construction project. The project leaders were also able to bring state officials into a conversation about cleaning and maintaining drainage ditches in their communities to reduce flooding. The project leaders have become trusted partners in the communities, and have been effective at communicating concerns to local leaders. The team's approach is recognized as a template for helping rural communities address local problems associated with climate change.

See more information about this project. 

 

Resilient Communities and Economies 

Homeowners Resist Installing Stormwater Best Management Practices Because of Mosquito Concerns

Summary: Homeowners and renters may be reluctant to use stormwater best management practices (BMPs) for fear of causing more mosquitoes in their yards. In this first study to rigorously enumerate mosquito infestation in disconnected downspouts in Maryland, researchers found downspouts harbored few human-biting mosquitoes. Residents’ perceptions of higher risks were largely unfounded and printed educational materials did little to change behavior regarding stormwater management.

Relevance: Urban stormwater runoff is a growing source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay, and one of the hardest to combat. Reducing this form of pollution requires that stakeholders be convinced to take action, often at their own expense, to minimize common nutrient pollutants, including nitrogen and phosphorus in fertilizers, from running off their land and washing down storm drains. In order to control stormwater runoff, residents and landowners need to be convinced to install best management practices that help retain and infiltrate stormwater onsite. Many people believe that holding standing water, whether in a garden feature, a rain barrel or pond, will increase the number of mosquitoes in their yards. However, not using these practices results in more stormwater pollution.

Response: Dr. Paul Leisnham of the University of Maryland worked with Maryland Sea Grant Coastal Resilience Fellow Kanoko Maeda and undergraduate assistants to design and distribute a questionnaire that assessed residents' knowledge of and behavior towards urban stormwater and mosquito production in backyard landscapes. They also tested how residents responded to print educational material regarding BMPs and stormwater management. Further, researchers conducted mosquito surveys to test if the most common backyard stormwater structure (disconnected downspouts that drain into gardens rather than sewers) provided habitat for more mosquitoes than backyard containers that collect water (e.g., buckets, birdbaths).

Results: The questionnaire showed that residents who knew more about water resources and BMPs lived in households that used BMPs more often. Residents’ familiarity with BMPs strongly varied with ownership status. Respondents 50 years of age or older were most likely to practice source reduction in disconnected downspouts. Printed educational material did little to change residents’ behavior. These results suggest that careful development and distribution of educational messaging may help residents better understand stormwater management. Mosquito surveys revealed that disconnected downspouts resulted in many fewer mosquitoes than other backyard containers. The research team shared this vital information with households, homeowner associations, and nonprofit groups to dispel the myth that stormwater structures produce mosquitoes and to encourage more residents to use practices to reduce runoff.

See more information about this project.

 

Resilient Communities and Economies

Extension Faculty Develop Website and App to Record, Track, and Map Stormwater Best Management Practices

Summary: Urban stormwater is a major contributor to pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland Sea Grant extension specialists have developed a mechanism to record progress in reducing stormwater pollution through an easy-to-use website and app.

Relevance: Unlike a sewage treatment upgrade, where managers make improvements in a central location, improvements to stormwater tend to be spread out, not uniform, and lack a standard tracking and verification process. It's important that these upgrades are counted so counties and localities where they are installed can get credit for their stormwater pollution reductions under the Chesapeake Bay's Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), which requires that communities document a mandated reduction in nutrient and sediment pollution.

Response: Maryland Sea Grant Extension specialists partnered with Towson University and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay to develop the Stormwater Management and Restoration Tracker (SMART). It is a web-based, interactive tool that allows users to chronicle 11 stormwater best management practices (BMPs), map them, record them, and have local volunteers verify that they are in place and working correctly. The data can be accessed by counties, localities, and municipalities and applied toward their TMDL requirements.

Results: SMART is in its pilot phase. Howard County is using it, and it has been written into the watershed implementation plan for St. Mary’s County. Multiple counties in Maryland and Virginia have requested to use the finalized tool. In 2017, 537 BMPs were entered into the system, and 105 have been certified. Those BMPs resulted in a 35-pound annual reduction in nitrogen entering the Chesapeake Bay. The pilot program is being expanded and the website improved in 2018. 

 

Resilient Communities and Economies 

Maryland Sea Grant Tackles Climate Change in Multiple Areas

Summary: Maryland Sea Grant supported research and outreach to increase planning, understanding, and dialogue to address effects of climate change in the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland's coastal bays regions.

Relevance: As with all coastal states, Maryland faces many environmental challenges that result from a changing climate. In particular, these include the acceleration of sea level rise, coastal flooding, erosion rates, wetland loss, and changing precipitation patterns. Rising average water temperatures and acidification in the estuary threaten fisheries. All of these effects carry economic and social costs that threaten coastal communities and businesses in Maryland and the region. Stakeholders from local, state, and federal governments must seek adaptation and mitigation solutions to keep Maryland economically and environmentally strong for its citizens and industry as it confronts increased risk from climate change.

Response: Maryland Sea Grant (MDSG) is working with our stakeholders in multiple areas to address climate change. MDSG's Director and our extension specialists participate in the Chesapeake Bay Program's Climate Resiliency Work Group (CRWG). MDSG also represents the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science on Maryland's Commission on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Working Group (ARWG), where we helped develop an action plan. A MDSG extension specialist is a core participant in the Eastern Shore Climate Adaptation Partnership (ESCAP), which convenes local governments on Maryland's Eastern Shore to improve regional climate adaptation efforts and helps communities identify available resources for climate adaptation. This specialist is also the University of Maryland's Extension representative on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Northeast Climate Hub. In addition, the specialist facilitated the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program using the Environmental Protection Agency's “Workbook for Developing Risk-Based Adaptation Plans.” MDSG also supported research to identify climate change researchers, gaps in research, and community engagement needs.

Results: All of these efforts helped to advance multi-partner projects to help communities and leaders plan for and adapt to a range of environmental impacts in Maryland caused by climate change. MDSG helped craft CRWG’s plans on: indicators; watershed implementation plans; and a Chesapeake-wide plan to incorporate climate change impacts into the Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). In addition, MDSG worked with the ARWG to develop an action plan, incorporating both MDSG's collaborative efforts to address community resilience on Deal Island and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and MDSG Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative’s efforts in sea level rise research and outreach. MDSG extension efforts resulted in the first Maryland Coastal Bays Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment. Results from MDSG extension's work in climate change were presented at the 3rd European Climate Change Adaptation Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. MDSG research provided a work plan for climate change activities and mechanisms to build out our climate program.

 

Resilient Communities and Economies 

Investigating the Drivers of Commercial Fishermen's Entry into Aquaculture

Summary: Maryland's oyster aquaculture industry adds oysters to the bay and is developing alongside an active public oyster fishery. One aim is to encourage commercial fishers, or watermen, to try aquaculture. This study set out to determine why watermen hesitate to do so and how best to address their reluctance.

Relevance: Maryland's oyster population is at less than 1 percent of its historic levels. As a result, the state invests millions of dollars each year in restoration so the Chesapeake Bay can continue to receive ecosystem benefits oysters provide. Oyster aquaculture is a net positive for the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland. Oyster growers add oysters to waterways, which encourage biodiversity and filter the water. They also add jobs in coastal communities. But despite encouragement from the state, many watermen are hesitant to enter the aquaculture business. If researchers can understand why, their findings may influence policymakers to make the path to aquaculture smoother.

Response: Researchers with the University of Maryland's Department of Anthropology observed watermen and oyster farmers in coastal communities throughout the state and conducted 16 network analysis interviews about the future of Maryland's public and private oyster fisheries. Interviews emphasized why and how individuals became involved in aquaculture, or opted to avoid it. They also participated in numerous oyster watermen and policy meetings to understand underlying attitudes and drivers of participation by waterman in oyster aquaculture.

Results: Preliminary findings indicate that watermen are increasingly involved in aquaculture while remaining active in the public oyster fishery. For many, aquaculture provides income that can be drawn upon if needed. Still, challenges remain. There are concerns over initial aquaculture start-up costs and applying for loans set aside for aquaculture, changing harvest practices from wild to aquaculture, and competition between the public and aquaculture fisheries for the best available Bay locations for oyster production. These findings helped inform state managers concerning Bay bottom leasing for aquaculture and informed Maryland Sea Grant extension agents regarding potential barriers to entry for watermen.

See more information about this project.

 

Effective Environmental Science Education

Maryland Sea Grant Publishes Decoding the Deep Sediments as Part of its Chesapeake Perspectives Series

Summary: Maryland Sea Grant publishes a book series, Chesapeake Perspectives, that goes deeper into a topic than we can in our magazines, blog posts and shorter publications. This one is a retrospective of Dr. Grace Brush's work, which examined sediment cores in the Chesapeake to understand how changes in land use since Colonial settlement affected water quality.

Relevance: Following a need to delve into more in-depth research on various topics, Maryland Sea Grant embarked on its Chesapeake Perspectives Series. Previous titles include: Managing the Chesapeake's Fisheries; Inquiry in a Culture of Consensus; Heritage Matters; and Chesapeake Environmentalism. Each more closely examines a topic that was covered in the press and is of interest to the public. The impetus for the current book stemmed from a desire to get a picture of what the Chesapeake looked like prior to major land-use changes. Knowing how fast the changes came and what caused them can improve approaches to Chesapeake Bay restoration, to make sure the right practices occur in the right places.

Response: Grace Brush of the Johns Hopkins University led a team of students over 30 years to collect and analyze hundreds of sediment cores taken throughout the Chesapeake Bay. Their analysis of these samples illustrates how radical transformations of the land, particularly clearing trees for farmland and suburban development, resulted in massive runoff of sediment and nutrients that contributed to the decline of water quality and benthic organisms in the Bay. Maryland Sea Grant helped turn that research into a short book.

Results: Maryland Sea Grant edited and produced the most recent contribution to the Chesapeake Perspectives series, Decoding the Deep Sediments. Grace Brush presents the stories the sediments tell us about the Bay’s ecology. She explains the radical changes that have occurred over the last 400 years and outlines actions that can reverse the decline, including planting more trees and re-evaluating land-use policies with an eye toward more conservation. Those actions could help the Chesapeake Bay transition toward a healthier, benthic-dominated ecosystem like that of its pre-Colonial past. The book is available from Maryland Sea Grant and is expected to be used in undergraduate classes as have others in the Chesapeake Perspectives series. Grace's work, and the book, received media attention, which we hope will drive more interest.

See more information about this project.

 

Effective Environmental Science Education

Maryland Sea Grant Supports Career-Building Fellowships for Graduate Students

Summary: Maryland Sea Grant sponsors graduate fellowship programs that train qualified students in marine science through participation in research and policy activities. From 2014 to 2017, 26 students received support to conduct research projects at seven Maryland institutions, and 15 students were placed in federal offices as Knauss Marine Policy Fellows.

Relevance: Training future scientists is critical for developing a scientifically literate workforce that will investigate environmental issues, translate scientific information into forms useful to society, and help policymakers craft informed decisions.

Response: Maryland Sea Grant (MDSG) supports highly competitive research fellowship programs and the Sea Grant Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship. The fellowships included the Maryland Sea Grant Research Fellowships from 2014 to 2017, a Graduate Research Fellowship in 2014, and the Coastal Resilience and Sustainability Fellowships from 2015 to 2017. These provide students the freedom to exclusively pursue their own research projects without teaching courses or doing unrelated research work. The Knauss Fellowship supports students for one year to work in the legislative or executive branch of the U.S. government in the Washington, D.C. area. Additionally, MDSG provides professional development in science communication and blog writing.

Results: Maryland Sea Grant supported 26 research fellows and 15 policy fellows. MDSG created the Coastal Resilience and Sustainability Fellowships in 2015, a program that required fellows to propose a project and select a professional mentor to make the research more relevant to end users and more accessible through outreach. The program supported 10 fellows examining topics relevant to resilience in the Chesapeake and coastal bays. Resilience fellow projects investigated ocean acidification and blue crabs; sedimentation dynamics; saltwater intrusion; and the resilience of restoration practices. Research fellow topics included nutrient cycling and methane production in Chesapeake Bay sediments; modeling menhaden's distribution and growth; septic system nutrient reduction performance; fishing pressure on blue crabs; and modeling and visualizing coastal inundation. Knauss fellows have served with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, with many going on to careers in state and federal government, academic institutions, or to PhD programs. MDSG fellows described their scientific and professional growth in blog posts they wrote for MDSG's website. Since 2014, MDSG edited and posted more than 50 student blog entries. MDSG has highlighted fellows’ contributions in separate impact statements about the projects on which they worked.

More information about Maryland Sea Grant's work in graduate fellowships.

 

Effective Environmental Science Education

Maryland Sea Grant Helps National Marine Educators Association Grow and Thrive

Summary: Maryland Sea Grant serves as the home for the National Marine Educators Association. During this partnership, NMEA's membership has increased and it has saved money and improved efficiencies through office organizational improvements led by Maryland Sea Grant.

Relevance: The National Marine Educators Association (NMEA) members advance the public's understanding and protection of freshwater and marine ecosystems. Its approximately 1,100 members are classroom teachers, informal educators, university professors, scientists, and others from around the United States and other countries. The association, formed in 1976, holds an annual conference and supports 17 regional chapters that pursue educational and conservation programs. NMEA has supported the development of Ocean Literacy Principles, an educational framework and network about oceans for all ages. The association has also worked to integrate ocean science concepts into state and national educational standards for primary and secondary schools. NMEA publishes a quarterly, peer-reviewed publication, Current: The Journal of Marine Education.

Response: In 2014, Maryland Sea Grant (MDSG) became the National Marine Educators Association's home. Now, four years later, this national educational organization continues to operate and flourish at Maryland Sea Grant. MDSG and University of Maryland Extension partners with NMEA to support an office coordinator and the elected membership secretary. MDSG supported staff work closely with the NMEA president's chain and board to coordinate national office activities including board meetings, membership management [through the Your Membership (YM) platform], and NMEA engagement with local chapters.

Results: Since MDSG became home for the NMEA's national office, NMEA's organizational efficiency has increased through an improved website, use of the YM software and an organization-wide Google calendar, and MDSG-provided computing and technology support. In addition, MDSG assisted NMEA to develop ‘How To’ guides for using the YM management system and hosts an annual NMEA executive committee meeting at the MDSG offices. Under Sea Grant leadership, there have been three membership drives, three Annual Appeals, and a 20 percent increase in NMEA membership.

 

Effective Environmental Science Education

Maryland Sea Grant Teams Up with Gothenburg University on Innovative K-12 Education Program

Summary: Through an international partnership, more than a hundred students and teachers from Sweden, Norway, Germany, Spain, Maryland, and South Carolina share data, collaborate through video-conferencing, and participate in experiential science education. Maryland integrates part of its long-running biofilms and biodiversity education program with both national and international partners.

Relevance: In the United States, and globally, there is heightened interest in K-12 education strategies that promote science literacy and teach students research skills. Science educators seek opportunities to provide middle and high school students experiential, project-based science training. By adopting Next Generation Science Standards, Maryland increased demand for high-quality professional development to strengthen teacher content knowledge and pedagogical skills. In parallel, European Union members are working to improve science education training. As globalization continues, the EU is supporting mechanisms for internationalization of education projects at the K-12 level. In particular, there is interest in developing multi-national teacher and student collaborations.

Response: In 1997, the University of Maryland, University of Bergen (Norway) and the University of Gothenburg (UGOT), Sweden, launched the VirtUE (Virtual University Education) project. The outreach component, the VirtUE Project partnered with Maryland Sea Grant's existing Biofilms and Biodiversity (BBP) K-12 teachers and students experiential learning project. Today, these projects continue collaboration and expansion with funding from the European Commission and University of Gothenburg in Sweden and new partners from Germany and Spain. Maryland Sea Grant provides expertise in teacher professional development programs, innovative instructional strategies, and pedagogical techniques.

Results: In 2017, Maryland Sea Grant's assistant director for education became a co-leader on a three-year European Commission grant (VIRTUE-s). Efforts include presentations; a book chapter (submitted to Exemplary Practice in Marine Science Education); use of Biofilms and Biodiversity in Maryland's Carroll and Baltimore County school curricula; and using BBP as a model system for monitoring aquatic biodiversity as part of the UMCES/IMET Model Urban Wetland project. More than 200 new students from Carroll County schools analyzed 10 biofilm racks from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Baltimore County students also used biofilm racks in their field experiences. One VIRTUE-s workshop at Grice Marine Laboratory drew 70 participants, including students from Sweden and Charleston High School, Clemson University faculty, and South Carolina Sea Grant educators. In 2017, a teacher and a graduate student studied Inner Harbor biofilms and worked on a related DNA barcoding project with IMET researchers and the National Aquarium. Data from all of these efforts reside on the VIRTUE-s project website and are available in English. A permanent VIRTUE-s project and biofilms display is installed at the Sjofartsmuseet Akvariat museum and aquarium in Gothenburg.

More information about Maryland Sea Grant's work with biofilms and biodiversity.

 

Effective Environmental Science Education

Maryland Sea Grant Supports Research and Career Development for Diverse Groups of Undergraduate Students

Summary: Maryland Sea Grant developed and led undergraduate research programs in Maryland and Puerto Rico and provided funding to support students at scientific meetings. From 2014 to 2017, these efforts exposed more than 180 students to graduate research opportunities, professional networks and the latest research, thus increasing opportunities to succeed in scientific careers.

Relevance: America needs well-prepared scientists and scientifically literate citizens to tackle the many challenges facing our coastal natural resources. To retain students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, hands-on undergraduate research experiences and professional development opportunities are vital, especially for students from non-research institutions and underrepresented groups. Numerous studies demonstrate that participation in national and regional science meetings helps retain students in STEM fields by exposing them to professional networks and the latest research, but financial support is often necessary for students to participate.

Response: Maryland Sea Grant (MDSG) addressed these needs by developing and leading a Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program (REU) with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), the Centro TORTUGA (Tropical Oceanography Research Training for Undergraduate Academics) program with UMCES, Universidad Metropolitana and Universidad del Turabo in Puerto Rico, and by supporting Gemstone Scholars undergraduate research at the University of Maryland, College Park. These programs introduce undergraduates of all ages to research and provide opportunities to conduct their own research projects. Many students are supported to present their work at professional conferences. For the REU and TORTUGA programs, Maryland Sea Grant and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science lead numerous professional development activities and develop classroom curricula. In addition, Maryland Sea Grant staff has mentored minority ocean science students at conferences through the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography–Multicultural Program (ASLO–MP) and the Society for the Advancement of Chicano/Hispanic and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).

Results: More than 180 students have participated in these programs since 2014, including 19 underrepresented minority students in REU and over 70 Hispanic students in our Puerto Rico programs. Dozens of students have presented at conferences, including the American Geophysical Union (AGU), ASLO Aquatic Sciences meetings, AGU/ASLO Ocean Sciences, SACNAS, and the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation. Additionally, several students won awards at these meetings. Nearly all of these students have completed or are on track to complete a STEM degree.

More information about Maryland Sea Grant's work with the Puerto Rico Initiative.

 

Effective Environmental Science Education

Aquaculture in Action Education Program Advances Student Learning and Teacher Professional Development in Project-Based Science

Summary: Maryland Sea Grant leads teacher professional development workshops and individual school consultations to improve the content knowledge, practical skills, and pedagogical skills through Sea Grant's highly successful, student-driven, project-based learning science program Aquaculture in Action.

Relevance: Science educators face huge challenges providing project-based, experiential science opportunities to promote science literacy and engage students in research. Related challenges exist in the development of high-quality professional development programs that enhance teacher content knowledge and pedagogical skills. These methods are highly sought after with the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards in Maryland and their cross-cutting themes.

Response: Maryland Sea Grant (MDSG) education specialists continue to develop a strong network of aquaculture educators working with local school systems and administrators who participate in MDSG's Aquaculture in Action (AinA) Program. The education specialists work with key partners, including the University of Maryland Extension; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's B-WET program; the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division; the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology; the Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future Aquaponics Project; the National Aquarium; local school systems; and school systems outside of Maryland. They lead high-quality teacher professional development programs that show how to construct and operate classroom aquaculture systems to raise and release native species of fish. These hands-on experiential learning opportunities allow students to develop skills in biology, chemistry, mathematics, nutrition, small-scale engineering, and digital technology, including Raspberry Pi microprocessors, to measure water quality. Professional development workshops helped schools and teachers develop low-cost water quality monitoring techniques for use in an innovative educational approach using aquaculture and aquaponics systems to improve instructional strategies

Results: In 2017, Sea Grant taught 20 teachers who supported 14 aquaculture projects including five new schools in Maryland affecting 900 students who raised and released more than 2,500 native fish. Teachers constructed and installed 14 micro-computing water-quality monitoring systems. Partners together published four papers.

More information about Maryland Sea Grant's work with K-12 educators.

 

Effective Environmental Science Education

Communication Products Explore Chesapeake Bay Science and Cultural Topics in Depth

Summary: Chesapeake Quarterly magazine and our social media presence inform the general public and the management community about topics relevant to the Chesapeake Bay's restoration and conservation.

Relevance: Marylanders must remain informed about the science that leads to policies that help restore the Chesapeake and coastal bays and watersheds. Cutbacks in regional environmental and science coverage have left a void, and that makes the magazine an essential resource for learning about restoring and preserving Maryland's waters. Increasingly, the public is turning to organizations like Sea Grant for information.

Response: Maryland Sea Grant (MDSG) meets this need in part by publishing Chesapeake Quarterly, a magazine that explores scientific, historical, and cultural issues relevant to the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland coastal bays, and their watersheds. The magazine appeals to both scientists and non-scientists and is distinguished by narrative storytelling; accurate explanations of science; clear and informative graphics; and large photos. Social media posts spread the word about studies our scientists are engaged in and create a community of interested readers. The Communications Department also created fact sheets for Capitol Hill visits and brochures that explain Maryland Sea Grant programs, including summaries of meetings that brought oyster farmers, scientists, and extension agents together with federal and state partners. This year, we received huge bipartisan support from our representatives, for which we are thankful. MDSG also produced several blog posts and social media posts about science work. We produced two videos explaining extension projects, and one about being a Knauss Legislative Fellow on Capitol Hill.

Results: Chesapeake Quarterly has 4,100 print subscribers. By mid-2017, each of the issues had drawn between 3,000 and 5,500 views online. The Facebook page surpassed 1,000 followers; Maryland Sea Grant's twitter feed has more than 2,000 followers. Outreach on social media increases our visibility, helps us connect with sources, and promotes the work of extension agents. The community continues to grow and remains interactive on social media. Maryland Sea Grant also recently began an Instagram account, reaching out to partners and the public. The videos were able to show the work of MDSG extension to the broader community.

Read Chesapeake Quarterly here.