In honor of World Oceans Day, West Marine stores announced the recipients of its annual Marine Conservation Grants program. The way it works, grants are awarded to organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada who are working to “improve and protect marine habitat." Due to the abundance of worthwhile projects, West Marine upped their grants to $40,000 instead of $30,000, which was previously announced.
The Marine Conservation Grants are a component of West Marine’s BlueFuture initiative to help create a sustainable future for our planet. The focus of this year’s awards is on projects that enhance marine habitat, engage anglers in data collection and educate anglers about barotrauma. The thirteen recipients are based in Massachusetts, Florida, Washington, Louisiana, California, British Columbia, Canada and Hawaii:
1. Gloucester, Massachusetts
Massachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries will use the grant to educate the public, captains and crews of charter boats about barotrauma. Barotrauma occurs when bottom fish suffer from the sudden pressure change when they are brought to the surface. These fish often have bulging eyeballs and swim-bladders protruding from their mouths. When released due to size, the fish are unable to swim and die. However, with one of numerous barotrauma devices, the fish can be lowered to the appropriate depth, their bodies recompress and they can swim away. Funds will be used to measure the effectiveness of commercially available recompression release devices that return fish to a depth where they may “recompress.”
2. Kingston, Massachusetts
The Jones River Watershed Association was established to protect, enhance, and restore the natural resources of the watershed and its extended ecosystem. The grant will be used to outfit their new boat “Blue Future” which will improve their ability to collect data on species in the bays and estuary. Learn more at www.jonesriver.org.
3. Sanford, Florida
The Snook & Gamefish Foundation’s Angler Action Program is committed to education, conservation and research to assure game fish for tomorrow. The grant will be used to enhance the iAngler mobile application which allows Florida anglers to contribute to state level fishery management. For additional information visit www.snookfoundation.org.
4. Miami, Florida
Coastal Angler Science Team (CAST) is a collaboration between anglers and researchers who are dedicated to recreational fisheries. The grant will support CAST Angler Rewards & Incentive Program to assist researchers and anglers in collecting data. Read more about CAST at www.cast.fiu.edu.
5. Jacksonville, Florida
TISRI is a non-profit organization focusing on the creation and promotion of artificial reefs. TISIRI stands for “Think It, Sink It, Reef It.” The funds will be used to clean up trash and fishing line on existing reefs in the Jacksonville area. To learn more go to www.tisiri.org.
6. Bellingham, Washington
CCA (Coastal Conservation Association) North Sound is a group of recreational anglers that advocate for salmon, steelhead, and other Northwest fish. The grant will fund a cooperative project with Washington’s Department of Fish & Wildlife to plant salmon carcasses for nutrient enrichment purposes in the Nooksack basin streams that are devoid of natural spawner carcasses. The project works to improve the habitat and resources for developing salmon and steelhead smolts. Data will be collected and monitored through spawner surveys and results tracked over subsequent years. For more information on this organization visit www.ccawashington.org.
7. Covington, Louisiana
Recreational Fisheries Research Institute’s (RFRI) mission is to manage fisheries, habitats and coastal restoration projects in Louisiana. The grant will support the Marine Sport Fish Tagging Program which is a cooperative effort with RFRI, CCA Louisiana and Louisiana State University. Through this program, anglers work to enhance fish populations with an angler driven tag and recapture collection program.
8. Long Beach, California
National Marine Sanctuary “Classic” in California, Florida, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Washington, Massachusetts, Michigan and Hawaii, produced by The Sportfishing Conservancy. Based in Long Beach, California, the Sportfishing Conservancy is on a mission to empower anglers to fulfill and celebrate their commitment to both their sport and real world conservation. The funds will support a summer-long National Marine Sanctuary “Classic” which is a photographic/fishing contest in all marine sanctuaries. The Classic highlights the fact that more than 95% of the National Marine Sanctuaries’ pristine waters are open to and encourage recreational fishing. To get involved visit www.sportfishingconservancy.org.
9. Central Coast, California
Coastside Fishing Club is a community of recreational fishermen who are active, conservation-minded volunteers sharing the common goal of improving California’s fishery. The grant will fund a Rockfish Barotrauma Awareness Program which educates recreational anglers on the ease, utility and survival rates for recompression of rockfish suffering from barotrauma. For more information on the club, check out www.coastsidefishingclub.com.
10. Petaluma, California
Golden Gate Salmon Association is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fishermen, businesses, tribes, environmentalists, families and communities that rely on salmon. GGSA has a board comprised of representatives of this diverse community, which reaches from Oregon to the Central Coast, through the Bay-Delta region and up a dozen rivers in the Central Valley. The funds will support 24 scientific research projects, all aimed at providing more and better spawning and rearing habitat, as well as more salmon-friendly water releases. You can find more information about GGSA at www.goldengatesalmonassociation.com.
11. Brentwood Bay, British Columbia
Sea Change is a non-profit organization that works towards the conservation and restoration of marine ecosystems in British Columbia. The funds will support eelgrass restoration along the coast. You can read more about Sea Change at www.seachangelife.net.
12. Honolulu, Hawaii
Pacific Islands Fisheries Group (PIFG) is a non-profit organization that was established in 2005 to help organize and keep Pacific Island fishermen engaged and informed on the management and conservation of fishery resources in the Pacific. The grant will support the Oio and Ulua/Papio tagging project which engages fishermen in cooperative research and conservation. Find more information about PIFG at www.fishtoday.org.
13. Concord, California
Water4Fish Inc. is an advocacy organization which solicits public support for better California water management policies for the protection and enhancement of fish. Water4Fish periodically summarizes the data by legislator for use in educating the legislator about his or her constituents and their support of fisheries. For more information please visit www.water4fish.org.
Marine Conservation Grants are awarded through a formal application process in which interested organizations must submit their proposal directly to West Marine. All applications are reviewed by the Marine Conservation Action Team. Since 1994, West Marine has donated nearly $5,000,000 to organizations that support youth boating, boating safety and the marine environment.