NOAA04-R999-35
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Aja Sae-Kung
10/6/04

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NOAA AWARDS $1.1 MILLION TO FUND RESEARCH TO DETECT AND ASSESS HYPOXIA AND TOXINS IN COASTAL WATERS
Grant Administered by the University of Southern Mississippi

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded the University of Southern Mississippi a $1,183,099 grant to develop the next generation of molecular indicators for monitoring of hypoxia and toxic chemicals in the nation’s coastal waters. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“The nation’s estuaries are a key ecosystem component and enhanced knowledge is critical to resource management in our coasts,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “NOAA’s partnership with the University of Southern Mississippi will help create the tools needed to detect early indications of nutrient overload in our estuaries.”

Over-enrichment of a water body with nutrients and the subsequent hypoxia, or the lack of oxygen near the water bottom, are major factors responsible for declines in habitat quality and harvestable resources in estuarine ecosystems. Over-enrichment is often accompanied and made more severe by the addition of toxic chemicals from urban runoff, sewage treatment plants, and pesticides and herbicides from agricultural runoff. These declines in habitat quality threaten the functioning of estuarine ecosystems with potential serious consequences for recreationally and commercially important fisheries. Indicators of hypoxia at the cellular level are needed to assess the beginning, extent and severity of chronic, as well as sporadic hypoxia and its effect on plants and animals living in estuaries.

The grant is part of the Aquatic Research Consortium, a collaborative program between Texas State University and the University of Southern Mississippi. The overall aim of the Consortium is to describe genetic changes caused by exposures to unfavorable environmental conditions. The Aquatic Research Consortium grant is managed by the NOAA Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research, Coastal Ocean Program.

NOAA Ocean Service’s Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research Coastal Ocean Program has awarded up to $30 million annually to academic, state, tribal and Federal partners to assist NOAA in the study of our coastal oceans. Coastal Ocean Program research provides decision makers with reliable and timely scientific information. These research programs are critical to the NOAA mission of predicting environmental change, managing ocean resources and protecting life and property. NOAA-sponsored research programs like the Aquatic Research Consortium demonstrate NOAA's commitment to these basic responsibilities of science and service to the nation.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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