R.I. Sea Grant invested in protecting health of bay
'We tackle almost all of the coastal issues in the area'
LIFE AT SEA: Barry A. Costa-Pierce, director of the Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program, said the implementation of the Special Area Management Plan is among the most immediate priorities of the program.
PBN PHOTO/CATIA CUEN
By Michael Souza PBN Staff Writer
Barry A. Costa-Pierce is the director of the Rhode Island Sea Grant program and a professor at the University of Rhode Island. He has held both positions since 2001.
On March 9, U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse announced that URI will receive $2.06 million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Grant College Program. The funds will be used by Rhode Island’s program to conduct research, education and outreach throughout the state.
Costa-Pierce speaks about the sea-grant program and its new funding.
PBN: What is the relationship between Sea Grant and the URI Bay Campus, the Graduate School of Oceanography?
COSTA-PIERCE: PIERCE: There are 32 Sea Grant programs, one in each coastal and Great Lake state, as well as Puerto Rico and Guam. The university is our host. Our administrative offices operate out of the Graduate School of Oceanography.
PBN: In general, what kind of topics does R.I. Sea Grant cover?
COSTA-PIERCE: PIERCE: Way back when, it used to only be about fisheries and then later on aquaculture. Now we work on sustainable coastal communities, hazard resilience, adaptation to sea-level rise, working waterfronts and ports and harbors. We served as a backstop for the entire state effort on coastal and marine planning, which led to the pioneering ocean Special Area Management Plan. It’s a very diverse interest. We tackle almost all of the coastal and resource-management issues in this political jurisdiction and in New England.
PBN: Is this accomplished by research, administration or both?
COSTA-PIERCE: PIERCE: We choose applied research for direct public benefit. We convene a large senior advisory council twice each year and throughout the year we hold many meetings with marine-ocean-coastal stakeholders. They tell us what the priorities are, then we [put in place] money for research, outreach extension and education to help meet the needs of the identified priorities as defined by the stakeholders. Not only must we fund great research but it must be connected, it must have an applied side to it.