Jumping Back Into the Harbor
by Jeff Gunderson
The United Arab Emirates and Dubai Ports have raised the issue of port management to an extreme level in the realms of media and politics. Recent discussions have centered on security concerns but arguably, more critical concerns are facing ports, harbors, and maritime transportation. Dale Bergeron’s article (Great Lakes Maritime Transportation System: Critical Energy for Change) in this Seiche addresses maritime transportation in the Great Lakes. Before the heightened awareness of ports and harbors created by Duabai Ports World, Sea Grant and the academic community were gearing up to address several important maritime transportation issues with industry partners.
As Dale describes in his article, Minnesota Sea Grant has a history of working with ports, harbors, and maritime industries. However, over the years and through program attrition we lost the capacity to work in this area. It wasn’t until the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute (GLMRI) was created in 2004 that we have had the opportunity to re-address this important topic.
The GLMRI’s goal is to help maintain and promote maritime transportation on the Great Lakes. Initial research will focus on the economics and development of the Great Lakes marine transportation system, the economics of port development in the Great Lakes, security issues, inter-modal transportation opportunities, and port environmental issues. The GLMRI is a joint effort of the University of Wisconsin-Superior and the University of Minnesota Duluth. The institute was recently awarded $2 million in federal funding. Their staff offered an opportunity for Minnesota Sea Grant to partner with them and industry to develop and implement outreach education focused on maritime transportation.
This is proving to be a terrific match of the outreach capabilities of Sea Grant and the research capabilities of the GLMRI. As Dale describes, there are many hot issues where the University can help with research, outreach, and education. We are also able to partner with National Sea Grant efforts in ports and harbors. Sea Grant has re-established a presence in the marine transportation industry through two national specialists for ports and harbors. Located in Texas and Southern California, these specialists are working directly with seaport managers, resource managers, commercial interests, and the general public. For more information about Sea Grant’s national efforts in this area, access www.seagrant.noaa.gov/partnerships/ports_harbors.html.
Sea Grant embraces the principles of sustainable development. We need our ports AND we need a healthy environment. Solutions to maritime transportation needs, environmental needs, and security needs must be based on sound science. Sea Grant and the GLMRI can provide credible scientific information related to the many challenges facing the nation’s maritime transportation industry, enabling the industry to meet them safely and responsibly. We look forward to working with the GLMRI to meet the needs of the maritime community today and address new opportunities for tomorrow.
Minnesota Sea Grant