The Deepwater Horizon Open Ocean Trustees have released a final Open Ocean Restoration Plan. They selected 18 projects totaling almost $226 million to help restore fish, sea turtles, marine mammals and deep-sea coral habitat injured by the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
This represents the largest dedication of Natural Resource Damage Assessment funds to restore these oceanic marine resources in the Gulf of Mexico to date. The selected projects will:
Develop innovative and voluntary tools for commercial fishermen to reduce bycatch of fish and recreational anglers to help more released fish survive.
Identify opportunities to partner with commercial fishermen to reduce the risk of sea turtle bycatch, and local organizations to protect sea turtle nesting habitat.
Develop and implement tools and techniques to reduce risks to marine mammals from vessel collisions, ocean noise, and human-caused and natural disasters.
Increase understanding of deep-sea coral habitat to improve their management and protection, remove threats, and develop new restoration techniques.
Provide voluntary ways to protect and restore marine resources that are based in and supported by science.
The Trustees released a draft of the plan in May for public comment, during which they received 53 comments, mostly supportive. Based on this input, the Trustees revised three projects to increase opportunities for fishing industry stakeholder engagement.
NOAA led development of the restoration plan in coordination with other Open Ocean Trustee agencies: the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The full plan document, summary, fact sheets, and materials translated into Vietnamese can all be found on the Gulf Spill Restoration website.