Susan White, Executive Director, North Carolina Sea Grant. Photo courtesy Roger Winstead.

Susan White, Executive Director, North Carolina Sea Grant. Photo courtesy Roger Winstead.

With summer now in our rearview mirror, the autumn season is spreading out in front of us. It is full of festivals and outdoor opportunities to enjoy the — hopefully — cooler weather with family and friends.

Inside this edition of Coastwatch, you’ll find out where to catch the Chefs Competition at the N.C. Seafood Festival in Morehead City, celebrate Hatteras Island culture at Day at the Docks, and bring the family out for fun at the Outer Banks Seafood Festival. I’m into eating, but if you’re more into birding and biking — maybe not at the same time — head to the Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival or join Cycle North Carolina’s annual Mountains to Coast ride.

Fall is an energizing season for me with the excitement of a new “school” year and the opportunities inherent in learning and applying information in support of the communities where we live and play. We know our communities change constantly, in big and small ways, for a variety of reasons — community members change, economies and environmental situations change.

Change provides opportunity for growth and development. And, as you’ll read in this issue, change also provides impetus for a range of innovation to meet the needs of the times, as well as position communities to be more resilient to future changes.

As one example, look to North Carolina fishermen and seafood providers. In collaboration with a variety of partners, they adapt to changing conditions by developing new avenues of revenue and building stronger relationships with local in-state customers who value locally caught seafood products. There now are multiple opportunities to buy local seafood through community supported fisheries that serve not only coastal communities, but also include delivery opportunities to a number of land-locked North Carolina cities.

Changes affect North Carolina Sea Grant on a regular basis as well. This year, the well-respected, state-supported N.C. Fishery Resource Grant Program, a collaborative research program between academic scientists and local fishermen, and administered by Sea Grant, was eliminated in the 2013–2014 state budget. We too will look to adapt and innovate to find alternative opportunities to support this type of unique research approach that brings significant value to our state and the communities that rely on, and enjoy, the coast’s natural resources.

This fall, Sea Grant continues to work closely with our academic partners to develop a forward-looking implementation plan to address an array of recommendations resulting from the American Association for the Advancement of Science review of the marine and coastal programs within the University of North Carolina system, completed earlier this year.

Additionally, as I write this in early August, we are preparing our reviews of our core proposals. In a future issue of Coastwatch, I look forward to sharing with you the breadth and depth of the Sea Grant-supported research, as well as specific Sea Grant contributions to the UNC coastal and marine science implementation plan. Both program investments will significantly build our state’s ability to not only address changing coastal conditions, but also position the state to be more proactive and adaptive to the opportunities and challenges in front of us.

As you consider the issues confronting North Carolina’s coast, let us know what role Sea Grant can play in addressing them. Reach out to me at or 919/513-1145.

This article was published in the Autumn 2013 issue of Coastwatch.

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