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$99.6 Million Approved to Continue Restoring Gulf-wide Resources Impacted by Deepwater Horizon

September 27, 2021

Eleven projects aimed at restoring sea turtles, marine mammals, oysters, and birds are approved to move forward in all five Gulf states, and in Mexico.

Sea turtle hatchling on the sand in the Gulf of Mexico. The Region-wide plan includes $18.6 million dedicated to four projects to restore sea turtles; one is focused on nesting sites. Credit: Shutterstock

NOAA and the Deepwater Horizon Regionwide Trustee Implementation Group have finalized their first restoration plan (PDF, 401 pages). The group includes all four federal agencies and all five Gulf states, collaborating and coordinating to restore the environment after the 2010 oil spill. The plan calls for $99.6 million to implement 11 restoration projects across all five of the Gulf coast states. It also targets specific locations in Mexico and on the Atlantic coast of Florida.

Wildlife and other natural resources affected by the spill often live and migrate across jurisdictional boundaries, which requires a region-wide approach to restoration. This approach also links projects across regional jurisdictions.

Final Approved Projects

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2 dolphins breach the waters surface in front of a wave.
The Regionwide plan includes $7.2 million for three projects to restore marine mammals like dolphins and whales. Credit: iStock

The projects will restore natural resources injured by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The portfolio of efforts will restore sea turtles, marine mammals, oysters, and birds:

  • Four projects ($18.6 million) will restore sea turtles through projects focusing on nesting beaches, enhancing stranding and salvage networks, and collaborating with recreational and commercial fisheries to reduce bycatch and to gather information to inform potential future restoration projects
  • One of the sea turtle projects includes components located on key sea turtle nesting beaches on the Atlantic coast of Florida and in Rancho Nuevo, Mexico
  • Three projects ($7.2 million) will restore marine mammals by enhancing stranding and salvage networks and working with fisheries, including collaborating with shrimp fishing communities to reduce dolphin entanglements in gear, and hook-and-line fisheries to reduce dolphin injuries and deaths
  • One project ($35.8 million) will increase the resilience of and restore oyster reefs by linking brood reefs and sink reefs in each of the five Gulf of Mexico states
  • Two projects ($31 million) will restore birds through habitat restoration and nesting colony management
  • One project ($7 million) will restore both sea turtles and birds through the removal of marine debris
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Clusters of oysters line a reef at low tide.
The Regionwide plan includes one $35.8 million oyster restoration project to restore and increase reef resilience. Credit: iStock

NOAA will lead five projects that restore marine mammals and sea turtles. The others will be led or co-led by NOAA, U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or the five Gulf states.

A draft of the restoration plan was released for 45 days of public comment in March 2021. The trustee group held two public meetings to present the plan, take questions, and accept public comments. The trustees removed a subcomponent of one of the bird restoration projects due to the project being completed by another party.

The broad geographic areas covered ensure restoration efforts are comprehensive and effective for the entire Regionwide Restoration Area. The projects will also complement efforts planned or underway in other restoration areas.

Stay tuned to the Regionwide Restoration Area or sign up for our Gulf Spill Restoration email bulletins for future updates.

Documents and More Information

Video: Restoring the Gulf After Deepwater Horizon