Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force---Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Science Assessment and Needs

Edited by: Shelby WalkerAlyssa M. Dausman, and Dawn L. Lavoie

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Abstract

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force (GCERTF) was established by Executive Order 13554 as a result of recommendations from “America’s Gulf Coast: A Long-term Recovery Plan after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill” by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus (Mabus Report). The GCERTF consists of members from 11 Federal agencies and representatives from each State bordering the Gulf of Mexico. The GCERTF was charged to develop a holistic, long-term, science-based Regional Ecosystem Restoration Strategy for the Gulf of Mexico. Federal and State agencies staffed the GCERTF with experts in fields such as policy, budgeting, and science to help develop the Strategy. The Strategy was built on existing authorities and resources and represents enhanced collaboration and a recognition of the shared responsibility among Federal and State governments to restore the Gulf Coast ecosystem. In this time of severe fiscal constraints, Task Force member agencies and States are committed to establishing shared priorities and working together to achieve them.

As part of this effort, three staffers, one National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientist and two U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists, created and led a Science Coordination Team (SCT) to guide scientific input into the development of the Gulf of Mexico Regional Ecosystem Restoration Strategy.

The SCT leads from the GCERTF coordinated more than 70 scientists from the Federal and State Task Force member agencies to participate in development of a restoration-oriented science document focused on the entire Gulf of Mexico, from inland watersheds to the deep blue waters. The SCT leads and scientists were organized into six different working groups based on expanded goals from the Mabus Report:

  1. Coastal habitats are healthy and resilient.
  2. Living coastal and marine resources are healthy, diverse, and sustainable.
  3. Coastal communities are adaptive and resilient.
  4. Storm buffers are sustainable.
  5. Inland habitats and watersheds are managed to help support healthy and sustainable Gulf of Mexico ecosystems.
  6. Offshore environments are healthy and well managed

Each working group was charged with defining their specific goal, describing the current conditions related to that goal (for example, the status of coastal habitats in the Gulf of Mexico), providing highlevel activities needed to further define and achieve the goal, with associated outcome-based performance indicators, and identifying the scientific gaps in understanding to accomplish the goal and implement the recommended activities. The overall scientific assessment reveals that the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem continues to suffer from extensive degradation, and action is necessary to develop a healthy, resilient, and sustainable Gulf of Mexico ecosystem.

The six groups also were tasked with outlining the necessary monitoring, modeling, and research needs to aid in achieving the goals. Recognizing that (1) the scientific needs (monitoring, modeling, and research) overlap among many of the goals, and (2) an overarching scientific framework could be developed to implement the necessary science in support of the Strategy, a seventh group was created with several members from each of the original six working groups. This seventh group compiled all of the cross-cutting monitoring, modeling, and research needs previously identified by the individual groups. These scientific requirements are found in Chapter 5 of this document.

The seventh group also has developed a Science Plan, outlined in Chapter 6. The Science Plan provides the basic science infrastructure to support the overall Gulf restoration program and Strategy. The Science Plan allows for the development of an iterative and flexible approach to adaptive management and decision-making related to restoration projects based on sound science that includes monitoring, modeling, and research. Taken in its entirety, this document helps to articulate the current state of the system and the critical science needs to support effective restoration of the Gulf of Mexico resources that have been trending towards decline for decades.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Report
Title Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force---Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Science Assessment and Needs
Year Published 2012
Language English
Publisher Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force Science Coordination Team
Contributing office(s) Southeast Regional Director's Office
Description viii, 72 p.
Other Geospatial Gulf of Mexico