Each year, Sea Grant supports some 500 research projects Investigating a wide variety of marine and coastal topics. This research addresses critical issues of local, regional and national importance. Among other advances, Sea Grant scientists have improved sensors for environmental monitoring (including sea level rise and tsunami prediction), developed promising drugs and industrial materials from the sea, devised new uses for seafood byproducts, monitored destructive invasive species, and improved the management of wild fish stocks. See press releases below for information regarding current projects.
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The University of Guam Sea Grant received $263K from NOAA to study ecosystem resilience to the spread of invasive species in the marine environment.
The study incorporates research and management priorities regarding non-indigenous marine species (NIMS) introductions and invasions for Hawai'i and Guam. The research outcomes are expected to include:
"On Guam, the ReefChip method will be expanded to detect new species introductions associated with the U.S. Military build-up and used to study the differences in non-indigenous marine species between disturbed and "intact" reefs,” said Jason Biggs, principal investigator of research project. “We will then determine the relative importance of herbivores in controlling alien invasive algae, the relative importance of these species in the diet of the herbivores, and the connections between the “intactness” of a marine ecosystem and its resilience against the introduction of invasive species.”
Over the past 40 years, resource managers and communities throughout the Pacific Islands have been increasingly concerned with the overgrowth of coral reefs by both native and introduced invasive macroalgal blooms. Alien algae species can smother and kill reef-building corals. This can have detrimental impacts on island communities and affects everything from loss of tourism revenue to total collapse of the coral reef ecosystem.
“In Hawai'i, the introduction and spread of marine invasive species have been well documented and a multitude of research and management projects have focused on understanding and remedying their impacts on native populations and ecosystems. In contrast, baseline research of invasive species on Guam is scarce, but the problem of invasions is imminent in light of the proposed military buildup and its associated boom in the development sector and marine transportation,” said Biggs. “Two factors that could accelerate the introduction and spread of NIMS in Guam’s coastal marine environments, especially Apra Harbor, are large-scale dredging operations and near-shore construction developments, which reduce the fitness of native species and facilitate the growth of invasive species; and increased shipping traffic between Guam, Okinawa, and other Micronesian islands, which increases the risk of NIMS arrivals and establishments.”
The overarching goal of the study is to determine whether or not the establishment and spread of invasive algae can be controlled by herbivore standing stocks. Intact marine ecosystems appear to be more resistant and resilient to environmental stressors as they maintain the important ecological roles and species interactions critical for sustainability across multiple temporal and spatial scales. “We will study Marine Protected Environments, as well as other efforts to maintain ecological integrity of coral reef ecosystems, to learn how they mitigate the effects of invasive species and other stressors.
The University of Guam Sea Grant Extension Program received a $92,000 grant from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Pacific Islands Region Program Office (PIRO) for reviving, demonstrating and teaching pre-contact indigenous Chamorro fishing techniques.“One of grant’s objectives is to work with the Traditions About Seafaring Islands (TASI) by focusing on ways that the indigenous Chamorro people harvested marine resources,” said Jason Biggs, assistant professor at the University of Guam’s Marine Lab.
“Prior to European contact and conquest, the Chamorro people were renowned throughout the Western Pacific for their ability to fish the open ocean in addition to their inshore waters. Over the centuries, native Chamorro fishing practices, indigenous maritime skills, knowledge and tools have been replaced with Western technology. We need to reestablish our knowledge of our traditional fishing skills so we don’t lose the safe, sustainable seafood supply that has defined us as a people for centuries.”
Environmental stewardship, long-term economic development and responsible use of America’s coastal, ocean and Great Lakes resources are at the heart of Sea Grant’s mission. The overarching goal of Sea Grant Extension Program is to enhance understanding of coastal processes in way that promote the use of sustainable practices in human activities and result in improved conservation, protection and maintenance of coastal resources property. This project brings together the traditional seafarers (TASI), two locally renowned masters of ancient fishing practices Joe and Ray Viloria, and the University of Guam Sea Grant Program (UOGSG). The team will work closely with the Guam Department of Agriculture, which is the local government agency tasked with managing Guam’s natural resources. The project partners will work together on a one-year joint demonstration and educational project.
“This marks the first time a local indigenous grass-roots organization, the university, and a government agency will collaborate on a project designed to educate and to empower the indigenous Chamorro people of Guam to revive indigenous fishing practices,” said Biggs.
"We believe that by teaching the community how to build, handle and repair fiberglass replicas of the smaller galaide, traditional-style indigenous outrigger canoes, and teaching traditional fishing techniques and tool making, the people of Guam will gain intimate understanding of their inshore fisheries, reconnect, and spread awareness of the importance and delicateness of their natural coastal resources,” said Biggs. “More importantly people will no longer be skeptical of their ability to catch fish using pre-contact equipment. With this project, the people of Guam have a chance to take the lead in creating an entirely new fisheries niche based on perpetuating our culture and our resources.”
Grant objectives include:
For more information contact Dr. Jason Biggs at firstname.lastname@example.org or 735-2696.