Five students conduct research through Georgia Sea Grant Legal Fellowships

In 2019, five law students - Christopher J. Bertrand, Maria Mercedes Carruthers Ferrero, Ashley L. Henson, C. Joshua "Josh" Rewis and Amelia C. Stevens - participated in the Georgia Sea Grant Legal Fellowship Program conducting research to address critical environmental, economic and social concerns primarily affecting coastal Georgia. Bertrand and Rewis completed their fellowships this past summer along with Ferrero who continued her work through the fall semester. Stevens and Henson completed their projects this fall.

Bertrand conducted research during the summer on Georgia's new oyster aquaculture statute. He compared the new law to the old law as well as to similar laws in surrounding states and shared his findings during a national, public webinar on oyster aquaculture law.

Earlier this fall, Henson explored user conflicts related to oyster aquaculture during her fellowship. She determined that a sustainable oyster industry in Georgia creates jobs while providing cleaner water and helping to conserve the state's salt marshes.

Rewis spent the summer researching state and federal programs investigating the compatibility between military installations and nearby communities throughout Georgia. He focused on slowing development around the state's 13 installations to address habitat loss, mitigate climate change, improve economic stability and maintain healthy conditions for training within military bases.

Relatedly, this fall, Stevens completed an article on the intersection between military readiness and coastal resilience. She will present this research, along with a case study on resilient coastal building, at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Social Coast Forum in February.

Ferrero spent the summer and fall researching the interplay of federal agencies like NOAA in formulating sustainable coastal protection practices. She studied the Coastal Zone Management Act and compared legislation implemented by southeastern states pursuing the protection of coastal marshlands. The goal of her research is to help guide joint efforts at the federal, state and local levels to address specific coastal public issues such as coastal erosion and resiliency planning.

The Georgia Sea Grant Legal Program is a partnership between UGA's Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant along with UGA's Carl Vinson Institute of Government. Through the fellowship program, students gain practical experience collaborating with local policymakers, scientists and individuals in the business community, and perform analysis to inform decision making. The fellows are supervised by Shana Jones, manager of the Planning & Environmental Sciences Unit at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government and director of the Georgia Sea Grant Legal Program.