Savannah State University (SSU) is one of 11 recipients selected for a 2009 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Preserve America Initiative Grant (PAIG).
Dionne Hoskins, Ph.D., SSU professor and fishery biologist for NOAA National Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, will oversee the $6,500 award, which will be used to document maritime cultural heritage.
The project will characterize the fishery-related occupations of African Americans in coastal Georgia 1865 to present, and gather information for future work that may determine the relationship between decreased participation and changes in regional fish populations and the fishing industry.
Using historical literature, landings data, field interviews with fishermen and their families as well as interviews with former and current fish wholesalers and processors, the project will identify trends in the Georgia African-American fishing community.
Interviews will be conducted by trained volunteers from A. E. Beach High School in Savannah, Ga., NOAA-supported students at SSU and/or high school students in the university’s Coast Camp for Youth.
According to the grant narrative, African-American participation in marine-related careers began as early as 1796 when the federal government provided seamen’s protection certificates for those who served at sea, including thousands of African-American merchant mariners.
The certificates documented them as ‘citizens’ of the United States, effectively making maritime employment one way for African Americans to shape their identities.
Established in 1890, Savannah State University is on the move to become the best value-added university in the nation.
The university’s 3,450 students are enrolled in 23 undergraduate and five graduate programs in three colleges: Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Business Administration and Sciences and Technology.