The Nature Conservancy Studied the Progress That’s Been Made and Compared it with the Restoration Plan’s Initial Priorities, and Found Fascinating Results
Dr. Christine Shepard, Director of Science, Gulf of Mexico Program, Nature Conservancy
(New Orleans, LA, Thursday, April 16, 2015) – It’s been five years since BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, spilling millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. But have efforts to restore the Gulf been successful? In a new report being released, The Nature Conservancy studied the progress that’s been made and compared it with the restoration plan’s initial priorities, and found fascinating results.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which occurred on April 20, 2010, is considered the largest accidental marine oil spill in history. It has gravely threatened the five Gulf states – Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida—whose economies depend on the Gulf for fishing, shipping, tourism, and other vital sources of income.
The Gulf is, without question, one of the hardest working bodies of water in the country. The 5th anniversary is a perfect opportunity to talk about the urgent need to restore the Gulf of Mexico, which has lost nearly 50 percent of its wetlands, 60 percent of its seagrass beds and 50 percent of its oyster reefs. Disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon have only exacerbated the situation. We are steadily stripping away the Gulf’s natural defenses, endangering wildlife, nature and the millions of residents who live in coastal communities.
- If the five Gulf states—Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida—were a country, that nation would comprise the 29th largest economy in the world.
- The Gulf is responsible for roughly 90 percent of all our offshore oil and gas production and is home to seven of the 10 busiest shipping ports in the country. In fact, the Port of Houston and Port of New Orleans are two of the busiest in the entire world.
- It supports one of the country’s largest recreation and tourism industries, to the tune of $20 billion a year and more than 600,000 jobs.
- The Gulf produces more than a third of the seafood Americans eat, including 60 percent of our oysters and more than 80 percent of our shrimp.