The Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) recognizes the ongoing and potential impact the current oil spill brings to the region. Each Gulf state is implementing an emergency response plan, and due to the strong Gulf States alliance, agencies are coordinating to address uncertainties the region faces in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Gulf of Mexico Alliance—Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas—was formalized in 2004 as the result of a shared vision for a healthy and resilient Gulf of Mexico region.

“The Gulf States are working collectively with our federal partners to address the short and long term effects of this event,” said Dr. William Walker, Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and lead on the GOMA Management Team. “Through the Alliance, we have formed outstanding relationships with our federal partners and they are working side by side with us in this effort. We are taking every available precaution to protect our marine and coastal resources from the impacts of the oil spill.”

The Alliance is aware that the economy and quality of life for citizens of the Gulf are linked to its ecological health. Water Quality, Habitat Restoration & Conservation and Coastal Community Resilience are three areas the Alliance is focused on that are at great risk in light of this crisis. Ongoing activities of the Alliance will support future mitigation actions related to water quality and the habitats impacted by this incident.

Here in Alabama, the Dauphin Island Sea Lab has been collecting samples to provide an effective baseline from which to gage any future negative impacts to critical habitats and fisheries. Dr. George Crozier, Director of the DISL, explains, “The role of the DISL is to try to apply all of its efforts in assessing the impact of any exposure, project consequences, and then see how good our projections fare in the next several years.”

The Gulf of Mexico is the most productive body of water in the US and Mexico, with a Gross Domestic Product of over $2.2 trillion, and includes seven of the nation’s top ten ports. Within the Gulf region are 50% of the Nation’s remaining wetlands. Wetlands provide important habitat for a number of mammals, birds, fish, and shellfish; they also are natural filters of pollutants. Unfortunately the animals that live there face harmful effects. Local, state, and federal experts are partnered to address the critical ecological and economic issues facing the region. This strong Gulf Alliance puts the states one step ahead in addressing the next actions needed to restore our coasts and enhance our resiliency for future impacts.

The Alliance will use this unfortunate event as a learning experience to more clearly identify what in our emergency operations worked well and what didn’t and use that information to develop a more robust plan to protect our invaluable coastal and marine resources. Through the collaborative leadership of local, state and federal government partners, and the active participation of businesses and non-governmental organizations, the Alliance is addressing six priority issues facing the Gulf region. The Governor’s Action Plan for Healthy & Resilient Coasts, endorsed by all five Governors, outlines specific actions needed to achieve the Alliance’s mission. To view the Action Plan and learn about the priority issues visit www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org.

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