CENTERS OF EXCELLENCE
RESTORE stands for:
"Resources and Ecosystem Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States". The RESTORE Act came into effect in 2012 and established the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund.
On its website, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council states that:
"The RESTORE Act dedicates 2.5% of the Trust Fund to the Centers of Excellence Research Grants Program, administered by the Department of Treasury. These funds may be used to establish Centers of Excellence for science, technology, and monitoring. In accordance with the RESTORE Act, each State provides an annual report on its respective Center of Excellence to the RESTORE Council containing grant information, including the amount, discipline(s), and recipients of each grant, and in the case of any grant awarded to a consortium, the membership of the consortium."
There are currently four established Centers of Excellence programs, the Florida RESTORE Act Centers of Excellence Program, Louisiana's RESTORE Center of Excellence Research Grants Program, the Mississippi Based RESTORE Act Center of Excellence, and the Texas RESTORE Centers of Excellence.
The Florida RESTORE Act Centers of Excellence Program (FLRACEP) is managed by the Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO), a consortium of organizations and institutions that facilitates research and education in the marine and coastal environments. FLRACEP funds and establishes Centers of Excellence grant in Florida in priority areas such as fisheries and wildlife research and the mapping and monitoring of the Gulf of Mexico.
As part of the FLRACEP request for proposals III.5, the West Florida Shelf Standardized Mapping Framework Center of Excellence was funded and established in the School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences at the University of Florida. This Center of Excellence, led by Dr. Anna Braswell and Dr. Vincent Lecours, aims to facilitate a collaborative effort to develop a framework for aggregating benthic habitat data on the West Florida Shelf and involves developing a standardized framework for data integration and distribution on the West Florida Shelf. The work associated with this Center of Excellence officially started in October 2020 and will last three years.
This Florida Marine Data Hub addresses two of the goals of the Center of Excellence, namely to review existing and successful frameworks for marine data integration and distribution around the world, and to review existing standards, protocols, and guidelines for data collection, integration, and distribution.
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