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New Gulf of Mexico Alliance Team Focuses on Data Management

June 16th through the 18th marked the 11th annual Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) All Hands meeting in Biloxi, Mississippi. This year’s meeting focused on the development of actions to be incorporated into GOMA’s Governors’ Action Plan III. This five-year action plan is a guiding document that helps the focus investments of staff, resources and partnerships on priorities identified by each of the six priority issue teams. It becomes final when it is signed by all five Gulf state governors. In preparing for the development of the third action plan, GOMA used extensive stakeholder feedback in 2014 to restructure their Priority Issue Teams (PITs). There are several reasons for the reorg: (1) stakeholders questioned why GOMA separated nutrients from water quality, so GOMA combined those two and added water quantity because it’s an emerging issue for several states; (2) more and more data issues were cropping up, especially related to monitoring ,so GOMA decided to make a new team that encompasses data management, mapping and monitoring issues; and (3) GOMA’s federal and state partners who deal with biological resources didn’t see a good fit for their issues, and made a strong case for the need for a regional approach.

The Data & Monitoring Team, a newly defined team in 2014, focuses on observations and monitoring, data access and acquisition, tool maintenance for all GOMA teams, and performance measures.

Florida is state lead for the Data & Monitoring team, co-chaired by Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The Data & Monitoring Team is directed by a steering committee comprised of representatives from all 5 northern Gulf States. Team membership is well represented across state and federal organizations, NGOs, and the private sector. During the team’s initial meeting, a draft mission statement and focal areas were developed as well as objectives and action steps needed to meet those objectives. While this team’s long term goals are still in the development stages, it’s important to note that the team’s membership includes long term Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Information & Data Cooperative (GRIIDC) members. Dr. Jim Gibeaut, GRIIDC Director, and Dave Reed, GRIIDC Subject Matter Expert - Data Compliance and Data Historian, will be able to use their experiences to help guide this newly formed team. The team’s focal areas are: (1) a data framework: focusing on all aspects of data management from data standards to storage to dissemination; (2) monitoring community of practice: to increase coordination among and across those sponsoring monitoring programs and those conducting monitoring to maximize information gain at a minimum of cost; (3) Gulf of Mexico master mapping plan: continued development of an overarching master mapping plan for the Gulf of Mexico that meets state.

To learn more about the Gulf of Mexico Alliance and the Data & Monitoring PIT please visit www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org. For information about participating in the Data & Monitoring PIT contact Kayleigh Michaelides (kayleigh.michaelides@dep.state.fl.us).