Okaloosa Co. to Receive $450K from BP

By: Press Release
By: Press Release

OKALOOSA COUNTY, FL - Okaloosa, like many other counties and nonprofits, applied for a grant for the Gulf Tourism and Seafood Promotional Fund, a British Petroleum (BP) settlement provided from a $57 million fund established to promote tourism and the seafood industries in Gulf Coast areas impacted by the Deepwater Horizon Incident. “We applied for $450,000 each year for 4 years, and have received approval for the first year,” stated Commission Chairman Don Amunds. “We are trying to seek confirmation on approval for any additional years; however are very excited about the current award.”

The Okaloosa project has two tasks:

1. A detailed, in-depth, scientific study to estimate species biomass surrounding 100 publicly known artificial reefs. (Biomass is the mass of living biological organisms in a given area or ecosystem at a given time.)

2. Task 2 develops a web application that incorporates the information collected in Task 1 study.

“I also want to make sure that people understand that this Gulf Tourism and Seafood Grant is a separate grant from others we are pursuing, such as the RESTORE ACT and NRDA grants,” stated Commissioner Parisot. “Scott Henson, Okaloosa Artificial Reef Program manager, applied for the funds and will implement the study.”

Data collection methods for the Task 1 study will be scientifically acceptable with proven field methods and monitoring objectives. Technical equipment will be required as well, such highly technical video, software tools to include 3-D visualization, and Global positioning (GPS) and more. The first out-year will duplicate study to monitor seasonal changes.

Task 2 utilizes information from the study and allows local decision makers to manage existing and future reefs, provide key data in the socioeconomic benefits of seafood resources associated with artificial reefs, as well as help promote recreational fishing and diving tourism and support local seafood marketing efforts in Okaloosa County.

Like all grant funds, there are criteria that must be met in applying and the following is outlined on the BP website concerning the Gulf Tourism and Seafood Promotional Fund, implementation and reporting:

·All Promotional Fund Awards shall be subject to periodic and/or final reporting to and auditing and/or review by the Claims Administrator, as deemed appropriate by the Claims Administrator.

·Multiple Promotional Fund Awards may be awarded to the same Applicant;

·However, no more than $500,000 per year combined may be disbursed to any one Applicant.

·In selection of recipients, special attention will be paid to the diversity, geographic and otherwise, of the Applicants.

For more information, contact our 311 Citizens Information Line (Public Works Dept.) or Scott Henson at 689-5772; shenson@co.okaloosa.fl.us. To view a video of the Monica Lee Reef, visit CountyOkaloosaTV on Youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/user/CountyOkaloosaTV

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