Testifying today at the 3rd meeting of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, The Nature Conservancy called for key actions that can be undertaken immediately to restore the Gulf’s health and productivity, which directly impacts the lives and livelihoods of 24 million Americans from Florida to Texas, who rely on a healthy and vibrant Gulf of Mexico.
“The future of the Gulf of Mexico is at stake,” said Brian McPeek, North American Regional Managing Director testifying on behalf of the Conservancy. “The Gulf tragedy has made it painfully clear just how closely linked healthy and vibrant human communities are to a healthy and resilient environment.”
Drawing on recommendations from the Conservancy’s “Gulf 20/20” report, McPeek noted that because of decades of degradation in the Gulf, merely cleaning up the spill will not be enough to save it and all the benefits — food, habitat, livelihoods, recreation, shelter — it provides. He outlined key actions that can begin to reverse the long years of damage and restore the natural infrastructure — the bays and estuaries, the rivers, coastal forests and reefs — that is the foundation of all life in the Gulf.
“We don’t have to start over – a new approach can be built on efforts that are working at the local, state and regional level,” said McPeek. “What is needed is a new, more accountable system of prioritization, coordination and leadership to truly advance long-term restoration in the Gulf of Mexico.”
The Conservancy emphasizes that it will be important to expand and accelerate conservation and restoration work on areas that were spared from the oil. Restoration planning and activities must include these places as well. Bays and estuaries with clean water, healthy oyster reefs and seagrass beds will be important lifelines for other parts of the Gulf as it struggles to heal itself from the oil.
The following are several of the recommendations offered by the Conservancy to the Commission:
To download the Conservancy’s full testimony and recommendations to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, visit nature.org/gulf.
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.