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Gulf Geospatial Assessment of Marine Ecosystems Gulf (GAME) Receives Gulf Guardian Award

Release Date: 09/08/2009
Contact Information: Davina Marraccini, (404) 562-8293, marraccini.davina@epa.gov

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – The Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced that the Gulf Geospatial Assessment of Marine Ecosystems (GAME), of the Florida Institute of Oceanography and Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute will receive a third place Gulf Guardian Award for 2009 in the Government Category. The 2009 Gulf Guardians hold a special significance this year as they will be awarded on the 10th Anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico Program’s Gulf Guardian Awards Program! (2000-2009). The ceremony will be held on the evening of October 29, 2009, beginning at approximately 6 p.m in the Magnolia Ballroom at the Beau Rivage Resort in Biloxi, Mississippi. The Awards ceremony is being held in conjunction with the Oceans `09 International Conference.

Gulf GAME was developed to provide database infrastructure to support one of the US EPA’s Strategic Plan Objectives, which aims to protect, sustain and restore the health of critical natural habitats and ecosystems. By providing core data layers that illustrate the current extent of benthic or deep-sea habitats, as well as habitats associated with the water-column, managers will be able to focus their energies on those areas of critical concern due to loss or degradation. The aim of the project is to develop an inventory of existing marine habitat-related information within the Gulf of Mexico. This will serve as a foundation to develop a spatial framework for ecosystem-based management associated with regulatory and planning programs and areas of government coordination. The data inventory has both a regional and local scope and focuses on gathering data and mapping coastal habitats from the estuaries onshore to the edge of the continental shelf offshore. By identifying all scientific data (such as seagrass beds and coral reefs) through this cataloging and mapping effort, coastal managers can protect and/or conserve priority habitats, identify water quality issues, and help maintain the ecological integrity of coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico. The most important feature of the GAME catalog is that it allows linking to data sets of interest. It is compliant with Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) standards. Also, the GAME staff designed and deployed an internet application (http://research.myfwc.com/gulfgame) to gather information and attendant metadata from researchers, resource managers, and the public. To date the GAME catalog has 2222 entries.

The Gulf of Mexico Program initiated the Gulf Guardian awards in 2000 as a way to recognize and honor the businesses, community groups, individuals, and agencies that are taking positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful and productive. A first, second, and third place award are given each year in seven categories individual, business, youth and education, nonprofit organizations, government, partnership and bi-national efforts.

A. Stanley Meiburg, Acting Regional Administrator of U.S. EPA Region 4 said, "The Gulf of Mexico is a priceless treasure. As a unique habitat, a place which gives pleasure to countless Americans, and a source of some of our most valuable resources, it has no equal. These Gulf Guardians who labor to protect and enhance this magnificent sea deserve our highest praise and thanks."

The Gulf of Mexico Program began in 1988 to protect, restore, and maintain the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem in economically sustainable ways. The Gulf of Mexico Program is underwritten by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is a non-regulatory, inclusive consortium of state and federal government agencies and representatives of the business and agricultural community, fishing industry, scientists, environmentalists, and community leaders from all five Gulf States. The Gulf Program seeks to improve the environmental health of the Gulf in concert with economic development.

Bryon Griffith, Director of the Gulf of Mexico Program said, “The Gulf Guardian Awards Program is in its 10th year of honoring citizens, governments and businesses throughout the 5 State Gulf Region for outstanding environmental achievements. Our 2009 award winners are truly an inspiration and exemplify the high quality of projects being done that generate as much excitement and pride as the award winners did in the beginning. With the addition of the Binational Gulf Guardian award in 2005, we now appropriately pay tribute to the bond we share in protecting this treasured resource with our southern neighbors and friends.”

For a list of all the Gulf Guardian Award winners for 2009, visit the Gulf of Mexico Program web site at http://www.epa.gov/gmpo and click on the Gulf Guardian Award button.


Editor’s Note: For more information about the Gulf Guardian Awards and the Gulf of Mexico Program, call the Gulf of Mexico Program Office at 228-688-3726 or visit our web site at http://www.epa.gov/gmpo.