U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., have introduced legislation to designate the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) as a Regional Coordination Entity of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
This authorization would make it easier for entities that oversee the Gulf of Mexico’s marine ecosystem to coordinate efforts between volunteers and federal and state authorities.
“Protecting the Gulf Coast and its many resources requires all hands on deck,” Wicker said. “This regional partnership can maximize its work by collaborating with local volunteers, communities, and states to support marine management and research. More importantly, this can be achieved at minimal cost to the taxpayer without adding regulatory burdens.”
“This legislation is intended to elevate the level of cooperation already being done locally and regionally to protect the Gulf Coast. This designation would increase opportunities to enhance the good work that has been done since 2004,” Cochran said.
“Protecting the Gulf Coast is important for the entire country, who rely on the industries and resources of the Gulf,”Cassidy said. “This designation will help ensure our Gulf remains healthy so it can continue to support our economy.”
GOMA was formed in 2004 as a regional partnership network that focuses on water quality, habitat restoration and conservation, wildlife and fisheries resources, coastal resilience, and data and monitoring in the Gulf and the Gulf states. The partnership is made up of five Gulf states and a broad network of federal agencies, academic organizations, businesses, and other nonprofits. The Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, and other regional water bodies already have similar authorizations in place.
A few examples of how GOMA has already helped Gulf states:
- Mini-grants to improve storm recovery have assisted more than 55 communities on the Gulf Coast;
- Upstream partners have developed nutrient reduction strategies to reduce the size of the hypoxic zone in the Northern Gulf; and
- Comprehensive database to track restoration projects funded by oil spill penalties.
The bill, S.1373, is supported by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Texas Commission for Environmental Quality, and Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. It has been referred to the Senate Commerce Committee for consideration.
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