New Orleans Sunset Photo: NOAA

New Orleans Sunset
Photo: NOAA

The Gulf of Mexico Alliance is focusing on Gulf restoration at its 8th Annual All Hands Meeting being held in Tampa this week at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay. The gathering focuses on shared ecological issues of the five U.S. Gulf States, and is an opportunity for all organization partners to meet and discuss critical environmental issues facing the Gulf of Mexico.  The meeting of the Alliance began today and continues through Thursday, June 27 with a theme of Collaboration is the Key to Successful Gulf Restoration.

Restoring the Gulf Coast’s ecosystem and economy was at the forefront of presentations and discussions on the first day of the meeting. The RESTORE Act, passed by Congress in 2012, will dedicate 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines from the BP oil spill to the five Gulf States to restore coastal environments and economies. Tuesday’s Gulf of Mexico Alliance meeting included an “Update on the RESTORE Council” from both a federal and state perspective.  Panelists included the newly appointed Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, Justin Ehrenwerth, along with representatives from the five state environmental agencies and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“As Gulf Restoration efforts go forward, we all have to work together,” Alliance Director Laura Bowie said. “As the Gulf’s regional ocean partnership, Gulf of Mexico Alliance has been committed to working with the Gulf States and with all levels of government, business, academia, and not-for-profits to restore the Gulf since 2004.  The RESTORE Act provides a once in a lifetime opportunity that we should not squander.”

The 2013 Gulf of Mexico Alliance All Hands meeting continues through June 27, 2012 at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay and is open to the public. A full schedule is available at www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org.