Virginia Sea Grant works (VASG) to enhance the sustainability and viability of coastal communities through economic and social science research, as well as extension activities. The coastal community development program within the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) Marine Advisory Program conducts economic analyses and supports coastal industries such as marinas, boating, seafood, and tourism. We have also partnered with Old Dominion University, and William & Mary Law School on projects that address climate change adaptation.
Extension projects include:
Virginia Sea Grant, Old Dominion University and the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission plan and host quarterly meetings to bring together local municipal government staff, scientific experts, private sector engineers, state and federal agency staff, NGOs and other stakeholders to facilitate regional coordination, information exchange and share adaptation best practices.
Meeting since late 2012, the forums have built a network of professionals that share information, adaptation lessons learned, and provide an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss science and policy in an informal setting.
The forum has two main functions. The first is to provide an opportunity for up-to-date research on flooding and sea level rise to be presented to those who will be using it to make public policy decisions. New research on sea level rise, flood modeling and adaptation options is constantly being released, and the forum allows for researchers and users to present their findings, and answer questions from local government staff.
The second major function is to provide an opportunity for dialogue and networking between information providers and users. This allows for the deliberation and discussion of current research, the sharing of best practices between local government staff from different communities, and the identification of specific research needs in Hampton Roads that can be addressed by the regional academic community. Using information from the forum, local government staff have made recommendations to update comprehensive plans to incorporate sea level rise, and floodplain management ordinances to address increased flooding risks, and recent regulatory changes.
Virginia Sea Grant works with coastal localities to explore opportunities to strengthen the business climate for marine enterprises. Such enterprises serve approximately 230,000 boaters who enjoy the tidal waters of Virginia.
For example, Virginia localities and marine industries are attempting to negotiate a lesser and more uniform tax burden on their boating clientele. Such a move helps to stabilize local businesses while ensuring steady growth in the future, large boat market. In certain locations, the result can help local governments attract new, mega yachts that bring acknowledged economic impacts upon local businesses, while cutting impediments to competition.
- Accessing the Virginia Coast
In the diverse Virginia coastal zone, only one percent of the shoreline is publicly owned. Providing residents and visitors with sufficient public access to natural resources is therefore challenging. It is important not only to offer access points through publicly owned land, but also to give the public meaningful coastal experiences incorporating Virginia’s maritime heritage and natural wonder.In partnership with VIMS and the Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public access Authority (MP-PAA) VASG was created a website to provide the public with information concerning public access to the tidal waters of Virginia.
- Small Grants
The Virginia Legislature ratified House Bill 1634 in 1999 providing $300,000 to the Virginia Graduate Marine Science Consortium to "protect and enhance the state's coastal fishery resources through the awarding of grants."
The Fishery Resource Grant Program is administered by the Virginia Graduate Marine Science Consortium / Virginia Sea Grant College Program with input from an appointed Advisory Board. Each year, the Advisory Board, with input from members of the fishing industry, develops priorities for the following areas: new fisheries equipment and gear, environmental pilot studies, aquaculture/mariculture, and seafood technology and utilization.
Virginia Sea Grant works with municipalities and private marinas to identify opportunities through the Boating Infrastructure Grant Program. The program brings federal dollars to bear on projects that expand capacity in Virginia’s recreational boating industry. Virginia businesses have been awarded in excess of $1.6 million in federal dollars, matched by $800,000 in local funds during the program’s first three years of operation.
There are approximately 1000 marinas and 230,000 boaters in the tidal waters of Virginia that share in the scenic beauty, economic benefits and general use of Virginia's waterways. This extensive interaction between users and natural resources increases the potential for negative impacts to water quality from nonpoint sources of pollution. Marina operators can prevent and reduce these potential impacts through a series of best management practices (BMPs). Virginia Clean Marina Program
- New Fisheries Equipment and Gear - This priority area seeks proposals that focus on the development of less environmentally destructive gear, bycatch reduction, more effective ways to handle catch and the development of information leading to fishery management plans for key species and groups.
- Environmental Pilot Studies - This priority area seeks proposals that focus on ways to restore damaged habitat, create new habitat, prevent habitat impairment or reduce impact from fishing or aquaculture activities.
- Aquaculture/Mariculture - This priority area seeks proposals that focus on ways to develop criteria and assessment for permits, increase return from investment in culture activities or introduce new species to the existing aquaculture list to broaden the participation in commercial aquaculture.
- Seafood Technology and Utilization - This priority area seeks proposals that develop value-added products from existing production, the utilization of underused or new fishery resources, develop models for total quality system management programs or increase returns in the seafood industry by improving packaging and handling.
To be eligible for funding under the Fishery Resource Grant Program, each proposal must substantially involve Virginians who are actively involved in a fishing industry (defined as persons involved in commercial activities relating to fishery resources, aquaculture/mariculture or the processing or handling fishery products). Proposals submitted by persons not involved in a fishing industry must have 1) substantial involvement of Virginia fishers as defined (above) and 2) written endorsements from persons or organizations representing fishing industries supporting the project.