The Nature Conservancy in the Gulf of Mexico - Gulf Restoration

Oil spill related penalties and fines are an important component of the much-needed Gulf restoration, but the penalties BP is required to pay will not be sufficient on their own to restore the Gulf of Mexico. The oil spill focused attention on the ongoing challenges faced by this region, and there is a renewed understanding of the Gulf’s environmental assets, and the threats to its future.

The Challenge

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill demonstrated that, unless carefully managed, intensive use of the Gulf’s natural resources can have disastrous consequences. Intensifying agricultural land uses in the Mississippi watershed can produce nutrient runoff that makes large areas of the Gulf uninhabitable for fish, oysters, and other marine life. The Gulf has lost nearly 50 percent of its wetlands, 60 percent of its seagrass beds, and 85 percent of its oyster reefs. Unless the right restoration steps are taken, the Gulf’s unique character and the remarkable services it provides to people will be diminished or lost entirely in the years to come.

The Opportunity

Funding from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill offers an unprecedented opportunity to create a healthy Gulf of Mexico that provides ongoing benefits for its people. If these fines are invested wisely, they could jump-start the long-needed restoration of the Gulf – restoration that can make the Gulf’s human and natural communities more resilient in a changing world.

What TNC Is Doing

The Nature Conservancy is conserving the lands and waters central to the Gulf of Mexico’s way of life. We are restoring healthy shorelines, protecting the Gulf’s waters, and ensuring that diverse communities benefit from Gulf restoration.

For more than 40 years the Conservancy has protected critical landscapes through land acquisition, pioneering on-the-ground and in-the-water restoration projects, and advocating for policies to achieve large-scale conservation in each of the Gulf States. We are working with partners to address the Gulf’s most acute problems and by recognizing the Gulf as a whole and connected natural system.



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