In honor of World Oceans Day, West Marine (Nasdaq: WMAR), the largest specialty retailer of boating supplies and accessories, today announced the recipients of their annual Marine Conservation Grants program. Grants for a total amount of $35,000 are being awarded to organizations throughout the U.S. who are working to “improve and protect marine habitat,” which is part of West Marine’s mission. This year’s grant recipients are located in Florida, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Hawaii, California and Virginia.
“West Marine is proud to support recreational fishing, scientific and marine environmental groups who are working together for abundant and healthy habitats and fish stocks,” said Randy Repass, chairman and founder of West Marine. “The work of these organizations will benefit recreational fishing, sustainable commercial fishing and help to enhance fish populations for today’s anglers and future generations.”
The 10 grants awarded focused on projects that enhance fish populations including; (1) engaging anglers in data collection and tagging, (2) enhancing marine habitat, (3) educating anglers, (4) encouraging policies that maintain healthy fish stocks.
The Recipients of the West Marine Conservation Grants for 2012:
1. Florida – The Snook & Gamefish Foundation: The Snook & Gamefish Foundation believes that a brighter future for all fisheries is in the hands of informed anglers, who will take proactive steps to increase, not just maintain, healthy habitats and fish stocks.
The grant will support the Reach & Teach project which engages anglers in fish data collection. To participate, anglers only need to fish and log their catch information. The project will collect and prepare recreational catch data on Snapper for review by the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. For more information visit www.angleraction.org.
2. Florida – Florida Oceanographic Society: Based in Stuart, the mission of the Florida Oceanographic Society is to inspire environmental stewardship of coastal ecosystems through education and research. They are dedicated to understanding threatened habitats through a water quality monitoring program, oyster restoration, and educational focus and to inspire people of all ages to understand and care about taking care of their environment. For more information visit www.floridaocean.org.
The grant is intended to enhance the habitat of the Indian River Lagoon. Secondary school students will restore an oyster reef habitat and then investigate how salinity, other water quality parameters, and the size of an oyster reef affect the species richness and diversity of invertebrates.
3. Florida – TISIRI: Based in Jacksonville, TISIRI focuses on the creation and promotion of artificial reefs. TISIRI stands for “Think It, Sink It, Reef It.” They generate reef concepts, address the logistics, and ultimately create marine bio-diverse hotspots. To learn more about TISIRI go to www.tisiri.org. The grant will be used to clean up several reefs in the area that are littered with trash and fishing line.
4. North Carolina – North Carolina Aquariums at Jennette’s Pier: Based in Nags Head, the mission of North Carolina Aquariums at Jennette’s Pier is to inspire appreciation of North Carolina’s aquatic environment, promote ethical fishing methods and demonstrate effective sustainable practices for water use, energy generation, coastal construction and storm water control. For more information visit www.ncaquariums.com.
The grant will support an Ethical Angling Techniques Class for visitors and students to help sustain the future of fishing.
5. Massachusetts – Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies: The Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (PCCS) is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to conduct scientific research on marine animals and marine habitats; to conduct educational activities to promote public stewardship; and to create collaborations wherever possible to advance this work. Learn more about them at www.coastalstudies.org.
PCCS is partnering with the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fisherman’s Association and the grant will contribute to a water quality monitoring program in the Nantucket Sound.
6. Hawaii – Pacific Islands Fisheries Group: The Pacific Islands Fisheries Group (PIFG) was established to help keep Pacific Island fishermen engaged and informed on the management and conservation of fishery resources. PIFG administers and supports programs that benefit marine and fishery resources, enhances fishing experiences and encourages responsible fishing. Find more information about PIFG at www.fishtoday.org.
The grant will support PIFG’s Statewide Tagging Challenge for tournaments. Tagging raises awareness about the science and management of local fisheries and contributes valuable data to local and national fisheries management.
7. Hawaii and California – The Ocean Foundation Tag-a-Giant Fund: The Tag-A-Giant Fund supports research on highly migratory fishes and promotes innovative policy and conservation initiatives based on this research. Led by Stanford University Professor of Marine Sciences Dr. Barbara Block, Tag-A-Giant has played a key role in integrating cutting-edge research into discussions of fisheries policy and marine spatial planning, particularly as it concerns bluefin tuna. You can learn more about them by visiting www.tagagiant.org.
Funds will be used to purchase a tag for the HIBT Great Marlin Race. The Great Marlin Race is collaboration between Stanford University, the Hawaiian International Billfish tournament and IGFA. Tags deployed on blue marlin during tournaments provide valuable data for researchers.
8. California – The Sportfishing Conservancy: The mission of The Sportfishing Conservancy is to empower anglers to fulfill and celebrate their commitment to their sport and to the real world conservation.
The grant will support the National Marine Sanctuary “Classic,” a photographic/fishing contest that 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. California – Water4 Fish Inc.: Water4Fish is an advocacy organization which solicits public support for better California water management policies for the protection and enhancement of fish. The organization operates a website www.water4fish.org where supporters can log on and send emails advocating better policies to legislators. Water4Fish maintains a confidential database of the supporters who log on and 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.
10. Virginia – National Coalition for Marine Conservation (NCMC): The Leesburg based National Coalition for Marine Conservation (NCMC) is the nation’s oldest public advocacy group dedicated exclusively to conserving ocean fish and their environment. Founded and supported by fishermen, the NCMC’s mission is to build awareness of the threats to our marine fisheries and convince policy-makers to restore and protect publicly-owned fishery resources. For more information www.savethefish.org.
West Marine’s 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 and evaluated by a dedicated and experienced cross-functional team of senior West Marine leaders.
Those applying must show sound financial policies and management with a key focus in marine conservation, habitat restoration and sustainable fisheries. These activities may cover water clean-up, habitat protection and restoration, ocean science and conservation projects that relate to key marine species, water quality, sustainable ocean use, etc.
Since 1994, West Marine has donated nearly $5,000,000 to non-profit organizations that support youth boating, boating safety and the marine environment. For more information about the Marine Conservation Grants program, please visit www.westmarine.com.
Logo courtesy of West Marine