Georgia Sea Grant Legal Program

The Georgia Sea Grant Legal Fellowship

This fellowship provides an opportunity for students from the UGA School of Law to work with legal and policy experts and address challenging environmental questions in coastal Georgia communities. Click here to learn more.

The Georgia Sea Grant Legal Program is an important resource in coastal law.

The Georgia Sea Grant Legal Program is a partnership between Georgia Sea Grant and the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia. The program solicits legal and policy questions from Georgia coastal communities, regional organizations, state agencies and others to address critical environmental, economic and social concerns affecting coastal Georgia.

In providing objective analysis for coastal decision makers, the Georgia Sea Grant Legal Program strives to support informed and effective management of coastal resources to improve hazard resilience, encourage sustainable development and promote healthy coastal ecosystems.

Highly interdisciplinary, the Georgia Sea Grant Legal Program works with scientists, local and state government leaders, extension agents and business owners to integrate the latest science with legal and policy analysis to improve hazard resilience, encourage sustainable development and promote healthy ecosystems throughout coastal Georgia. Georgia Sea Grant and Carl Vinson Institute of Government are units of the University of Georgia Office of Public Service and Outreach.

Current Projects

Studying Georgia’s Oyster Aquaculture Framework

The Georgia Sea Grant Legal Program is continuing research on Georgia’s growing oyster farming industry. Recent legislative changes, Department of Natural Resources rules and regulations, and the first floating oyster farm leases have dynamically changed the landscape of Georgia’s oyster law. These changes have the potential to revitalize a historic industry, while also providing a host of ecological benefits in the process, making Georgia’s new oyster farmers part of a larger picture of coastal resiliency. The oysters are delicious too. Legal Fellows will continue to monitor the growth of the industry along with planning and research support for cooperative partnerships in vertical integration, tourism, and restoration efforts.

2021 Oyster Mariculture in Georgia: Updates to the Legal and Regulatory Framework

Advancing Understanding of Risk: Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Flooding

Coastal communities are increasingly becoming aware of the risks to their ecosystems, homes, and economies because of increased flooding, more extreme storm surges, and sea level rise. Reducing risk on the coast will be achieved by means of a variety of approaches, including policy and regulatory changes, natural resource protection, structural and non-structural intervention and investment, and adaptive management.  Many coastal communities are already preparing both for their present vulnerabilities and for projected future conditions based on likely climate change and sea level rise scenarios. As part of a four-state regional project funded by the NOAA Office of Coastal Management, Florida Sea Grant, Georgia Sea Grant, South Carolina Sea Grant, and North Carolina Sea Grant (Project No.: FY2014-2018: NA14OAR4170084), project team members involving academic researchers, legal and policy experts, and law students have assisted coastal communities in four states – Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina – to prepare for present vulnerabilities and projected future conditions based on likely sea-level rise scenarios. The following white papers distill some of the findings that arose out of this project:

Sea Level Rise Adaptation on Tybee Island


The Georgia Sea Grant Legal Program is conducting research on the application of federal voluntary property acquisition programs to Tybee Island and other coastal Georgia communities. Byanalyzing the legal and policy considerations of creating voluntary property acquisition programs, the Georgia Sea Grant Legal Fellows are assisting local governments in planning for recurrent flooding and sea-level rise.

Increasing Flood Resiliency

The Georgia Sea Grant Legal Program is analyzing the legal and policy implications of the participation of coastal communities in the Community Rating System (CRS), a federal program incentivizing communities to take measures to lower their flood risk. Local governments can increase flood resiliency and lower flood insurance premiums for property owners on the coast through CRS participation.


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