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New Orleans, LA-For the first time, the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) and Mississippi River Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force (Hypoxia Task Force) will be meeting in conjunction on August 2-4, 2011, at the Westin Canal Place in New Orleans, Louisiana. Leaders from the five Gulf States, Mexico, up-watershed partners, Federal and State agencies, and coastal organizations will be present to discuss current and upcoming strategies for a resilient future for the Gulf of Mexico. A strong emphasis will be on hypoxia or “Dead Zone” issues and Gulf restoration.
The public is welcome at several public break-out sessions including: restoration in the Gulf; accelerating progress on common Gulf issues; developing a Gulf of Mexico Report Card; Gulf oil pollution research; Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning; healthy ecosystem value to the economy; and, international partnerships to protect the Gulf.
The public will have the opportunity to provide comments and ask questions during the Hypoxia session “Accelerating Progress on Issues of Common Interest.” A full schedule is available at: http://www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org
A leader for the Alliance and Task Force, Richard Ingram of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, said, “This joint meeting of the Hypoxia Task Force and Gulf of Mexico Alliance allows both groups to identify ways to work together and leverage resources to reduce nutrient pollution within the Mississippi River Basin and mitigate Gulf hypoxia. A special focus of the meeting is to accelerate development and implementation of state-level strategies to reduce excessive nutrient loadings. The expertise and diversity of participants from across the region and nation should ensure a highly successful meeting and development of a path forward for future collaboration and the efficient use of resources."
This year’s meeting is especially important because of the challenges caused by potential “Dead Zone" increases in the Gulf due to flooding in the Mississippi River. This flooding has brought an unusually high level of upstream excess nutrients into the Gulf of Mexico. The nutrient increase has caused the “Dead Zone” size prediction to be the highest on record. The variables of nature, management practices and possible treatment options are some of the challenges that will be discussed at the August meeting.
The media is invited to fully participate in this first ever joint meeting of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance and the Mississippi River-Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force meeting; a Press Conference has been scheduled for Tuesday, August 2nd at noon central.
About the Gulf of Mexico Alliance: The Gulf of Mexico Alliance recognizes the economy and quality of life for citizens of the Gulf are linked to its ecological health. As the result of a shared vision for a healthy and resilient Gulf of Mexico region, the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas formalized the Alliance in 2004. A not-for-profit organization, the Alliance’s mission is to enhance the ecological and economic health of the Gulf region by encouraging collaboration among government agencies, businesses, education providers and non-governmental organizations. Priority issues addressed by the Alliance include water quality, habitat conservation, ecosystem assessment, nutrient impacts, community resilience and environmental education. The Alliance supports the creation of a parallel Mexican Gulf Alliance and strongly encourages the continued pursuit of collaboration among countries in the region. To learn more about the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, visit www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org.
About the Mississippi River Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force: The Hypoxia Task Force was established in the fall of 1997 to understand the causes and effects of excess nutrients (eutrophication) and low oxygen events (hypoxia) in the Gulf of Mexico. The Task Force has the ultimate goal of decreasing the average size of the Dead Zone that occurs off of the coast of Louisiana and Texas each summer. Current activities include coordinating and supporting nutrient management activities from places like upstream farms and sewage treatment plants; restoring wetland habitats to remove nutrients; and, supporting hypoxia research activities which may reduce the Dead Zone. Five federal partners, 12 states and tribes make up the Task Force members. The Task Force’s Action Plan can be viewed at water.epa.gov/type/watersheds/named/msbasin/actionplan.cfm.
*Note: The Gulf of Mexico Alliance’s Nutrient Impact Team has partnered with the Hypoxia Task Force since 2006; however, this year’s joint conference is the first to have participation from all priority issue teams, partners, and stakeholders of the Alliance.
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