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Guam’s Sea Grant becomes an Institutional Programme

The new designation allows Guam’s Sea Grant to increase its contributions to the national network and enhance the practical use and conservation of Guam’s marine and coastal resources.

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
31 July 2022, at 8:00am
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Guam Sea Grant at SACNAS in 2019

The Sea Grant programme helps support sustainable aquaculture development in coastal areas of the US and its territories © NOAA Sea Grant

NOAA and Sea Grant are pleased to announce that Guam Sea Grant has achieved status as a Sea Grant Institutional Programme, a designation of growth from the programme’s previous Coherent Area Programme status. The designation comes on the unanimous recommendation of the National Sea Grant Advisory Board and NOAA senior leadership. As an Institutional Programme, Guam Sea Grant will be able to increase its contributions to the national Sea Grant network and enhance the practical use and conservation of Guam’s marine and coastal resources.

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“Guam Sea Grant has earned Sea Grant Institutional Programme status by demonstrating excellence in research, education and public service dedicated to the environmentally responsible management and development of Guam’s marine and coastal resources,” said Jonathan Pennock, PhD, National Sea Grant College Programme director. “Congratulations to the University of Guam, Guam Sea Grant leadership, and all of the staff involved in the remarkable growth of Guam Sea Grant over the past several years that made this designation a clear and well-earned advancement.”

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Guam's Sea Grant leadership team

(Left to Right) Guam Sea Grant director Austin Shelton with University of Guam Senior Vice President and Provost Anita Borja Enriquez, Governor of Guam Lourdes Leon Guerrero, Lieutenant Governor of Guam Joshua Franquez Tenorio and University of Guam President Thomas Krise © NOAA Sea Grant

Since 2012, Guam Sea Grant has supported activities around the United States Territory of Guam as a Coherent Area Programme. These activities have focused on STEM and ecosystem-based education efforts at the undergraduate and professional level, watershed management and conservation, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, and climate variability. Additionally, Guam Sea Grant’s research capacity has gradually increased over recent years. Their programme supports well-aligned research, which includes extension and education initiatives, and funding for graduate student fellowships.

In the spring of 2020, the President at the University of Guam, Dr Thomas Krise, with support from the director of Guam Sea Grant, Dr Austin Shelton, submitted a letter of intent to lead the Guam Institutional Sea Grant Programme. Sea Grant director, Dr Jonathan Pennock, determined that Guam Sea Grant was eligible and charged the National Sea Grant Advisory Board with leading the Institutional Status Review.

The National Sea Grant Advisory Board conducted a review and virtual site visit of Guam Sea Grant in the fall of 2021. During the review, Guam Sea Grant was evaluated on 10 criteria: leadership, organisation, relevance, programmed team approach, education and training, extension and advisory services, relationships, productivity, support and continuity of high performance.

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Guam's Sea Grant extension specialists and researchers

(Left to Right) Guam Sea Grant aquaculture extension specialist David Crisostomo shows the different components of the newly installed aquaculture system at the Saggan Kotturan Chamoru Cultural Center in Tumon; Guam Sea Grant conducts outreach on marine litter at the Sirena festival; Guam Sea Grant extension assistant Teddy Lee Concepcion participates in a service activity where invasive algae was removed from the ocean © NOAA Sea Grant

“The truly collaborative relationships between Guam Sea Grant and its partner organisations will be a great asset to the territory of Guam as they connect throughout Micronesia and the Pacific seeking opportunities to advance the region’s goals for natural resource management, climate resilience, food security, workforce development and education,” reads the Guam Institutional Status Review Committee Report from the Board.

After the Board recommended that Guam Sea Grant be granted the designation of Sea Grant Institute status, the designation was approved by NOAA in the spring of 2022.

“We are thankful to the National Sea Grant College Programme for recognising us as a trusted leader and partner in our community capable of executing effective programmes relevant to local, regional and national priorities,” said Austin Shelton, PhD, Guam Sea Grant director. “We look forward to celebrating this achievement with our community.”

Guam Sea Grant will celebrate its designation of institutional status locally with a “graduation ceremony” on Thursday 11 August 2022. The event will include official remarks by the director of Guam Sea Grant, Dr Shelton, and the director of the National Sea Grant College Programme, Dr Pennock, along with a concert and seafood.