The Gulf of Mexico Alliance is prepared to engage with representatives from various sectors to address environmental and economic concerns facing the Gulf of Mexico following the BP Disaster at the second “State of the Gulf of Mexico” Summit scheduled to take place Sunday, December 4, through Thursday, December 8, 2011 in Houston, TX.

The Gulf of Mexico Alliance officially came into being at the first Gulf Summit held in Corpus Christi with the release of its Action Plan for a Healthy and Sustainable Gulf. Since then, the Alliance has matured into a fully functioning network of partnerships across the Gulf, including State and Federal  agencies, business, academia and non-profit organizations. An integral partner to the Gulf of Mexico  Alliance, the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies will be the host of the 2011 Summit.  The Alliance recently held a joint meeting with the Mississippi River Basin Watershed Nutrient Task Force in New Orleans, LA and brought together leaders from the five Gulf States, Mexico, and up-watershed partners to discuss initiatives like the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force Strategy,  the International Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem, and Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning.  Following the outcomes of the joint meeting, the Alliance is well-equipped to bring valuable knowledge to the Gulf Summit in December. Alliance co-chair, Dr. Bill Walker and acting director Phil Bass will be key participants in the Summit as well as elected officials, environmental experts, and industry and business leaders from the Gulf States of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

According to Harte Research Institute Executive Director Larry McKinney, the goal of the State of the Gulf Summit is to define what a healthy Gulf should be, chart a course to that end and prescribe the means to assess progress to that goal. He commented, “One year after the largest accidental oil spill in history, there remains significant debate in the scientific community, about the ecological effects of the spill and even about the fate of the oil, itself,” McKinney continued, “How the spill will ultimately impact the open ocean, deep bottoms and perhaps the shallow continental shelf portions of the Gulf ecosystem, we just do not know. Regardless of what we learn from this oil spill, we must move forward in assuring a healthy Gulf of Mexico for the future.”

The State of the Gulf Summit will focus on assessing current conditions and build sound strategies for the future of the Gulf which is essential to the prosperity of the United States, Mexico and Cuba. The 2009 Governor’s Action Plan for Healthy and Resilient Coasts tasks the Alliance with specific actions to carry out its mission to improve the economic and ecological health of the Gulf of Mexico region. The results from this Summit will offer the Alliance continued opportunities to achieve its mission.

For information on the upcoming “State of the Gulf of Mexico” summit, go to www.sgmsummit.org or www.stateofthegulf.org

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About the Gulf of Mexico Alliance:

The Gulf of Mexico Alliance recognizes the economy and quality of life for citizens of the Gulf are linked to its ecological health. As the result of a shared vision for a healthy and resilient Gulf of Mexico region, the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas formalized the Alliance in 2004. A not-for-profit organization, the Alliance’s mission is to enhance the ecological and economic health of the Gulf region by encouraging collaboration among government agencies, businesses, education providers and non-governmental organizations. Priority issues addressed by the Alliance include water quality, habitat conservation, ecosystem assessment, nutrient impacts, community resilience and environmental education. The Alliance supports the creation of a parallel Mexican Gulf Alliance and strongly encourages the continued pursuit of collaboration among countries in the region. To learn more about the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, visit www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org.