Commissioner Toby Baker, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, recently became the new management chair of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, taking an active lead on behalf of the State of Texas. This is the fourth leadership change for the regional partnership since its formation in 2004.
The Gulf of Mexico Alliance released a ten year summary report in May. This report showcases major accomplishments of the six priority issue teams. Gulf of Mexico Alliance Ten Year Summary Report: 2004 - 2014 is available at www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org/10years/.
The Gulf of Mexico Alliance is making big plans for the 2016 All Hands meeting. It is being held June 14-17, 2016, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This year the meeting will include a Tools Cafe' and a showing of the Planet Earth Film, "Dispatches from the Gulf”.
It’s May, which means that research projects are starting to heat up. Two projects initiated on the Gulf Coast involve tagged seafood and money. Female blue crabs and delicious red snapper are being studied. Fishermen who are a lucky enough to catch the tagged seafood could earn between $5 and $500.
Missississippi Senator Wicker is working to expand, unify efforts to protect and restore the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. The "Gulf States Protection and Restoration Coordination Act," which would designate the Gulf of Mexico Alliance 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.
Tetra Tech, Inc. received the prestigious Greeley Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), supporting the Gulf of Mexico Alliance's Nutrient Team, contracted Tetra Tech to design and implement a monitoring and modelling project. Their paper, "Modeling the Factors Controlling Phytoplankton in the St. Louis Bay Estuary, Mississippi and Evaluating Estuarine Responses to Nutrient Load Modifications" won the award. The partnership between MDEQ, Tetra Tech, and funding agent the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program, resulted in modelling efforts that support nutrient criteria.
The National Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA), Trustees have proposed to accept a settlement with BP to resolve BP’s liability for natural resource injuries from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Under this settlement, BP would pay up to $8.8 billion for restoration. Based on NRDA's assessment of impacts to the Gulf’s natural resources, they determined that the best method for addressing the injuries is a comprehensive, integrated, ecosystem restoration plan. The final version of the Comprehensive Restoration Plan for the Gulf of Mexico was made available February 19th, 2016.