Contact: Ben Sherman
NOAA News Releases 2005
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Grant Supports Study of Hypoxia Impact on Estuarine Ecosystems

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has awarded Duke University a $458,518 grant to support research to address the ecological and economic effects of hypoxia on brown shrimp and the shrimp fishery in the Albemarle-Pamlico estuarine system in North Carolina. This award is the first installment of a three-year grant from NOAA with a total value of approximately $576,000.

The research is intended to relate shrimp production variables to indicators of the severity of hypoxia, develop models to assess the impact of hypoxia on shrimp production and evaluate the responsiveness of commercial fishing to shrimp densities affected by hypoxia.

Hypoxia in aquatic systems refers to waters with low levels of dissolved oxygen. This causes most marine organisms to avoid or become physiologically stressed in those locations. While this phenomenon can occur naturally, it is often a symptom of environments stressed by human impacts such as nutrient enrichment. Over half of U.S. estuaries experience natural or human-induced hypoxic conditions at some time each year and evidence suggests that the frequency and duration of these events have increased.

“NOAA’s partnership with Duke University will help create the tools for policy-makers to evaluate the impacts of hypoxia and associated remediation policies on this economically important commercial fishery,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “This grant also supports NOAA’s mission by ensuring economic stability in our coastal areas.”

The project is part of the Coastal Hypoxia Research Program, managed by the NOAA National Ocean Service’s Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research. CHRP will provide resource managers new tools, techniques and information for making informed decisions and assessing alternative management strategies regarding hypoxia in U.S. coastal waters, estuaries and Great Lakes. Determining the causes of hypoxia, developing the capability to predict its occurrence in response to varying levels of anthropogenic stress, and evaluating the subsequent ecological and economic impacts are necessary to develop potential management alternatives.

Each year, the NOAA Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research awards approximately $25 million in grants to institutions of higher education, state, local, and tribal governments, and other non-profit research institutions to assist NOAA in fulfilling its mission to study our coastal oceans. NOAA-sponsored competitive research programs such as CHRP demonstrate NOAA's commitment to these basic responsibilities of science and service to the nation for the past 35 years.

NOAA's National Ocean Service is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation’s coasts and oceans. It balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, 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. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners and nearly 60 countries to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.

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