WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today introduced the “Gulf States Protection and Restoration Coordination Act,” which would designate the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) as a Regional Coordination Entity of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This authorization would create more collaboration among entities who oversee the health of the marine ecosystem by coordinating the efforts of volunteers and federal and state authorities.

“Gulf states share a vision for a healthy and resilient coastline,” Wicker said. “This bill would help unify the Gulf Coast’s restoration efforts, in addition to strengthening collaborative management and research. With such a large marine ecosystem, we should maximize our opportunities for improved consultation and mutual support.”

The proposed legislation would strengthen cooperative voluntary efforts to protect and restore the Gulf of Mexico, as well as expand federal support without establishing new legal or regulatory authority. Designating the Alliance as a Regional Coordination Entity would reduce duplicative efforts and maximize opportunities to leverage restoration support in the Gulf of Mexico region.

GOMA was formed in 2004 as a regional partnership network that focuses on issues deemed a priority for states along the Gulf of Mexico. Its mission is to facilitate collaborative actions to protect, maintain, and restore the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico in ways consistent with the economic well-being of the region. Gulf priorities include water quality, habitat restoration and conservation, wildlife and fisheries resources, and data and monitoring.

Leading the Alliance are the five Gulf states and a broad partner network that includes federal agencies, academic organizations, businesses, and other nonprofits in the region. The headquarters are located in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.