Boat People SOS (BPSOS), the largest Vietnamese-American community organization in the U.S with 11 branches, has recently signed on as a formal partner of the 100-1000: Restore Coastal Alabama, a local coalition of public and private partners working to build 100 miles of oyster reefs and grow at least 1,000 acres of marsh and sea grass over the next three to five years.
In the coastal fishing town of Bayou la Batre, Alabama – where one-third of the population is Southeast Asian, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill left thousands of local workers without jobs for eight months and counting.
“The partnership with 100-1000 goes a long way toward moving past the impact of the spill, bringing jobs to the region while rebuilding our coastal environment,” said Grace Scire, Boat People SOS regional director. “Most of our Southeast Asian community members came to the Gulf coast, particularly Bayou la Batre, because the conditions – the climate, the ecology, the fishing – are so similar to the place they left behind.”
To date, J&W Marine Enterprises, a local business contracted by The Nature Conservancy on behalf of the coalition, has hired nine Southeast Asian workers through Boat People SOS to prepare approximately 23,000 bags of oyster shells for the first 100-1000 oyster reef component to be constructed at Helen Wood Park near Mobile, Alabama. The Helen Wood Park project, a volunteer event set for January 22-23, 2011, is being generously funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Federation and the Alabama Wildlife Federation.
“Partnering with Boat People SOS is a natural step for our work in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Jeff DeQuattro, project manager for The Nature Conservancy in Alabama, the lead science and restoration partner for the 100-1000 coalition. “The cultural diversity of the people who rely on the Gulf is as varied as the biological diversity of the Gulf itself. By restoring the Gulf, we’re also helping to sustain the traditions and livelihoods of the people who rely on it.”
The newly forged partnership with BPSOS and 100-1000 represents the intinsic link between the environment and the economy, according to Casi Callaway, executive director of Mobile Baykeeper, a leading partner organization of 100-1000. “Starting today, we are arming our fishermen, oystermen and shrimpers with opportunities to help them earn an income while they are unable to fish."
About 100-1000: Restore Coastal Alabama
In 2010, four leading conservation organizations—Alabama Coastal Foundation, Mobile Baykeeper, The Nature Conservancy, and The Ocean Foundation—formed a coalition to address not just the environmental impacts of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill but reverse years of damage from pollution, storms, development practices and erosion along the Alabama coast.
“One of five flagship restoration projects The Nature Conservancy is working on in the Gulf, the 100-1000 project in Mobile Bay stands out as an impressive model for partnership and coalition building that has great potential to be replicated and used to advance restoration efforts across the Gulf of Mexico,” said Judy Haner, marine director for The Nature Conservancy in Alabama.
With a growing roster of more than 20 public and private partners, ranging from federal and state agencies to academic institutions and private organizations, the 100-1000 coalition is working to kick start coastal restoration over the next three to five years, making Alabama coastal areas more resilient to impacts from hurricanes, oil spills and climate change.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.