The Gulf Ecological Management Sites Program
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Lands Division, Coastal Section
23210 US Hwy 98 Suite B-1
Fairhope, AL 36532
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
3900 Commonwealth Blvd.
Mail Station 235
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Office of Coastal Management
Louisiana Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 44487
Baton Rouge, LA 70804
Mississippi Department of Marine Resources
1141 Bayview Ave., Suite 101
Biloxi, MS 39530
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
6300 Ocean Drive, NRC 2501
Corpus Christi, TX 78412
What is a Gulf Ecological Management Site?
A Gulf Ecological Management Site (GEMS) is a geographic area that has special ecological significance to the continued production of fish, wildlife and other natural resources or that represents unique habitats.
What is the GEMS Program?
The GEMS Program is an initiative of the Gulf of Mexico Program (GMP) and the five Gulf of Mexico states that provides a regional framework for focusing attention on ecologically important Gulf habitats. The GEMS Program coordinates and utilizes existing federal, state, local and private programs and resources to identify GEMS in each state, build an informational database, and foster cooperative conservation of GEMS.
The GEMS Program is an important strategy of the GMP to achieve its goal to conserve, restore, enhance and create Gulf of Mexico habitats. 105 special ecological areas have been identified as GEMS by the individual Gulf states. Information about each site, such as size, boundaries, ecological characteristics and current management status are being included in a Gulf- wide information system. This GEMS information network will be used by participants in the GEMS Program to coordinate and to share information about ecologically important sites and appropriate management techniques on a regional basis.
The goals of the GEMS Program are to:
- Promote information exchange about the ecology and management of GEMS;
- Increase awareness of the national and international significance of GEMS;
- Improve understanding of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem; and
- Further conservation through interagency coordination; public/private partnerships and targeting of research, monitoring, action projects and other activities.
What is the GEMS Information Network?
- The GEMS information network is an informational database containing descriptions about each GEM site, such as size, location, ecological characteristics and current management status.
- The information network will be accessible to government agencies and the public via the Internet.
- The purposes of the GEMS information network are
- assist GEMS coordinators in communicating about the GEMS program;
- promote information exchange about GEM sites and management strategies;
- assist in targeting government resources, such as monitoring, research and projects;
- provide the public with access to information about GEM sites for project planning purposes; and
- serve as a tool to educate the public about the importance of GEMS.
What is the Status of the GEMS Program?
In 1996, the five Gulf of Mexico states, working in
cooperation with the GMP, identified 105 GEM sites
and developed the concept for the regional GEMS information
network. Currently the states, supported by a grant
from the GMP, are building the Gulf-wide GEMS information
network, which includes compiling specific information
about each site and establishing Internet GEMS homepages
for each state. The GMP has also established this
GEMS homepage that connects to the states' homepages
and is working toward developing a regional GEMS database
linking the information about all the sites that will
be accessible to the public and support the purposes
of the GEMS information network.
Another current activity of the GEMS Program is assessing the management needs for the GEM sites in each state in order to identify common issues and problems and to set priorities for future activities to conserve these areas. The GEMS Program is also coordinating with the GMP to identify opportunities for further cooperative projects.