Coastal Field Monitor Program

Coastal Field Monitor Program

The Texas Sea Grant Program (TXSG) at Texas A&M University is excited to partner with Flatsworthy, Inc. on a new project to establish a coastal field monitor system, called the Coastal Collaborative Initiative. The goal of this initiative is to create a network of local stewards throughout the Texas coast to gather information that is reflective of our coastal environments and the trends and changes occurring within these systems. We are seeking the input from fishing guides, dedicated anglers and others who have a long-term relationship to a given coastal area and are willing to share their observations and insights based on day-to-day experience on the water. By working with coastal residents to share information about local ecology and interactions with their environment, we hope to build capacity within our communities to identify, share and address research and information needs, and promote local solutions.

Men and women who spend a great deal of their lives working on the water, such as fishermen, are some of the most observant and knowledgeable folks regarding our coastal environments.  Their livelihoods and lifestyles depend upon an intimate and fine-tuned understanding of, and ability to adapt to, the dynamic environment in which they live and work.  They have a unique perspective and opportunity to observe environmental changes based on their experiences within the natural environment, in some cases from families going back generations. Local knowledge is typically pragmatic and holistic, often emphasizing interconnectedness between people and nature and includes information about the biological, physical, and cultural aspects of the natural world. This knowledge may differ from knowledge gained through modern scientific studies, but it is often complementary and parallel. Such knowledge can inform science by providing local ecological information and a historical narrative of local ecosystems. 

Our goal is to harness this real-world knowledge to document observed trends or environmental changes that field monitors identify as warranting further research or management response. We want to record the subtle changes that accumulate over time. Information collected from field monitors will include a wide range of topics, including: changes in habitat vegetation, water quality, soil and bottom composition (including reefs), erosion or changes in water depth, changes in current patterns, changes to shoreline (natural and built), and changes in biodiversity (birds, fish, etc.) such as species abundance, behavior, quality, and health. Field monitors who volunteer for this program will share their knowledge through Observation Logs that can be completed periodically and as often as desired. By accumulating this information up and down the coast, we hope to develop a library of consistent and common problems and empower key and qualified individuals from the field to be advocates for the welfare of the region’s natural resources. Information will be shared with resource agencies and researchers.

Our hope is to gain a bigger picture of our coastal systems and recognize the value inherent in including local voices in resource management, research and education. Information collected through the network will be compiled into a living document that may act as a roadmap for future collaborative efforts between local fishermen, academia and management. If you are interested in learning more about this program please contact us at monitor@flatsworthy.com.

 

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