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Coastal Research and Information Needs

Here is a list of research issues and information needs (not prioritized) identified by natural resource managers and researchers working on Georgia's coast.

Updated July 2018

Marine Fisheries

  • Status and trends in emerging/declining fisheries (cannonball jellyfish and whelk, respectively) as they relate to harvest, abundance, participation and ecological impact
  • Estimates of hooking mortality in the catch-and-release recreational fisheries
  • Complete knowledge of the life history of exploited estuarine and marine fishes indigenous to coastal Georgia
  • Evaluate the role of instream flow (and drought) as it relates to species abundance, estuarine productivity, and overall health of coastal ecosystems
  • Improve fishery assessments, with increased/coordinated fishery-dependent and fishery-independent monitoring/surveys region-wide
  • Identify critical habitats (spawning, nursery, etc.) for commercially and recreationally important species (shrimp, blue crabs, red drum, spotted seatrout, Southern kingfish, sheepshead, Southern flounder, tripletail, etc.)
  • Characterization/quantification of impacts to Essential and Critical Fish habitats and fisheries and ecosystem productivity
  • Economic impacts of saltwater fishing tournaments, artificial reefs, and for-hire charter businesses
  • Georgia's fishing fleet, what is the condition of the current fleet and future forecast with the reduction in working shorelines? Average age of vessel, sea worthiness, and where are the vessels originating from?
  • Monitor the abundance and distribution of introduced species and evaluation their impacts on native fauna
  • Characterization of discards associated with recreational fisheries, specifically red drum.

Coastal Habitats

  • Tidal marsh restoration (ecological lift versus economics, analysis of existing restoration, i.e. does it work/is it successful)
  • Ecosystem services (value of saltmarshes)
  • Economic value of salt marshes via wave attenuation during storm surge
  • Innovative technologies /methodologies for dredge material disposal (thin layer placement in salt marshes, tracing sediment movement after disposal)
  • Innovative materials and techniques for implementing Living shoreline projects that aim to recruit oysters and stabilize shorelines, considerate of sea level rise (new materials, materials of opportunity vs. traditional cultch materials)
  • Environmental and biological data related to health and/or status of Georgia's river drainage systems. Specific needs related to habitat requirements during early life stages of marine organisms
  • Carrying capacity of docks in small creeks and tributaries - Can a carrying capacity model for creeks and small tributaries be developed?
  • Measuring how artificial reefs/oyster restoration/living shorelines affect adjacent habitats (versus bulkheads, revetments)
  • Living Shoreline suitability model: what parameters and thresholds should be considered when implementing these stabilization structures
  • Reach of tide in major riverine systems

Water and Sediment Quality/Quantity

  • Bacterial transport – hydrology studies; what are the bacterial sources? (Transport and time-of-travel studies to estimate when a pollution plume would reach a coastal swimming beach)
  • How harmful to human health is enterococcus bacteria in beach waters?
    ▪ Epidemiology studies of recreational waterborn illness.
    ▪ Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA) studies for specific beaches
  • Bacterial issues in and around Georgia coastal marinas
  • How can we better detect pathogens in beach waters?
    ▪ Predictive modeling to correlate environmental factors to elevated levels of bacteria
    ▪ How best to implement enterococcus qPCR method
  • Correlations between DO levels and tannins in Georgia coastal rivers
  • Impacts of decreased fresh water inflow to estuaries
  • Effects of wetlands and land use practices on instream flows (at multiple scales from site to regional)
  • Direct and indirect influences various coastal and near coast forestry activities have on the coastal waters of the state - Effects on nutrient loads
  • Sand budget studies for Georgia sea islands, including shoreline erosion and accretion history and trends
  • Beachfront shoreline change modeling/predictive ability considerate of natural and anthropogenic inputs
  • Similar to predictive modeling as above in beach water pathogens but focused on point source discharges and accidental releases
  • Appropriate DO criteria that is protective of aquatic species present

Management and Communications

  • Revision of policies and permitting processes to accommodate emerging needs.
  • Smart growth/land-planning initiatives
  • Hold annual meeting to communicate resource managers needs – before Sea Grant and CIG deadlines
  • Series of “issues” papers on website to identify needs (issues paper that ID data gaps)
  • Rapid response vs. emergent issues – need protocol to handle each of these
  • Long-term research vision that incorporates management needs and scientists interest – symposium??
  • Take research priorities to Sea Grant and CAC as information to incorporate into theme setting
  • Better educate CAC members regarding coastwide research needs and priorities
  • Directed projects through CAC and Sea Grant – is this possible??
  • Data coordination
  • Topic-specific education opportunities
  • Have workshop similar to Coop. Science Center (NOAA – SSU) to influence incoming applications
  • Include those individuals that are “well connected”

Coastal Hazards

  • Economic cost of action vs. inaction related to coastal hazards
  • Effects of Ocean Acidification in Coastal Georgia Waters
  • Local Model Ordinances to address Climate Change Impacts
  • Reference tide stations to orthometric datum for enhanced accuracy of calculations in reference to land elevations

Green Growth/Stormwater Management

  • Pre and post construction monitoring of effectiveness of LID BMP installations (including water quality and quantity impacts)
  • Inventory of specific codes, ordinances, and/or individual practices that are hindering green development in coastal counties, including solutions to alleviate these roadblocks
  • Detailed maintenance guidance for LID BMPS in coastal Georgia specific environments
  • Future buildout analysis for coastal counties to demonstrate stormwater and flooding impacts with increasing impervious cover (including water quantity and quality impacts)



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This page was updated July 9, 2018