Crisis Du Jour or Where is Sea Grant Going in the Next Twenty Years?

Gordon Grau, President of Sea Grant Association and Director of Hawaii Sea Grant, spoke on how we are going to get from the here and now to 10-20 years from now and how important it is to plan, envision, and create to serve our communities – it will take inspiration and perspiration.

Sea Grant started with an idea by Athelstan Spilhous, geophysicist and oceanographer, inventor, Dean of the University of Minnesota, Institute of Technology, and syndicated newspaper cartoonist.

  • Spilhous saw Sea Grant as a multidisciplinary project fully integrated in colleges
  • 1965 Sen. Claiborn Pell, RI welcomed SG programs
  • 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed the legislation creating Sea  Grant
  • 1968, the first grants were awarded
  • 80’s were a time of survival
  • 1995 Strategic Plan introduced

America’s coasts today
Nutrients are going to become an increasingly important component as coastal areas become even bigger centers of economic activities, waterborne commerce, tourism, energy and mineral production.

  • More people have moved to the coast and it’s issues have taken on more urgency
  • American’s coasts are invaluable: economic, cultural and environmental resources are at risk
  • Increased rates of climate-related environmental change have made coastal communities vulnerable
  • Ten of the 15 largest cities in the U.S. are in coastal area
  • Coastal economies drive the national economy
  • 14 of the 20 busiest airports are in coastal areas
  • Excluding Alaska, coastal counties are 17 per cent of U.S. land area
  • It’s all about people!

The challenge

  • Foster robust, resilient, economically and socially inclusive and vibrant coastal communities

Sea Grant is demonstrating nimbleness and continues to be responsive to challenges.

We have the tools and capacity to be effective players in contributing to solutions.

The future
“I skate to where the puck is going to be not where it has been.”  –Wayne Gretzky

  • Where will the puck be in 10 years and how will we get there?

Planning is essential
“I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” –Eisenhower

  • One approach is focus teams
  • Established as a mechanism to implement national, regional and state plans in an effective, coordinated and collective manner
  • Nominations vetted with the leadership of the National Sea Grant

How well will the Sea Grant National strategic plan mirror and address coastal issues  and opportunities of 2020?

  • Advantage of core values remain
  • Integration of research, education and extension is at heart of Sea Grant mission
  • Sea Grant builds human resources
  • We need to be quick to understand, think and devise unique advantages in NOAA bottom up and university-based

We have the advantage of being integrated with state organizations, and not restricted by regulatory responsibility of fishers, oceans or atmosphere.

We are 32 separate entities in a unified network

Interstate resources in

  • Research – new knowledge
  • Education – new human resources
  • Outreach – better living along coasts

How do we ensure that Sea Grant remains dynamic and nimble in:

  • Developing new approaches and capabilities
  • Engaging new partners and stakeholders
  • Attracting the best faculty and staff
  • Obtaining funding and other support

Changing focus through the years

  • Institutional  think tank mechanism to ensure creative anticipation
  • Sustainable coastal development started with a notion
  • CCE was self-selecting and inclusive

Next big idea
Two mechanisms for anticipating

  • Focus teams
  • Accessing the  entire network – Ad hoc exploration of new ideas and opportunities, .e.g., working waterfronts, hazards and tourism

Let’s begin today!


About Waurene Roberson

Web and print design and development for the National Sea Grant Law Center
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