NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program – Science Plan

NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program – Science Plan (2015)

This is mostly vague generalities, but there is a pointed criticism of diversions on page 20:

The impacts of diversions must be vigorously studied before actions are taken. For example, redistribution of sediment through diversion may cause a loss of sediments necessary to build up or maintain land areas that can contribute to land loss. Further, diverted waters may contain high concentrations of nutrients that may result in less robust and resilient marsh grass growth. However, after many years of having been diverted, reestablishment of freshwater flows in some areas may dramatically alter adapted habitats, potentially impacting the abundance of economically important resources.

(Also see: NOAA views on potential environmental risks of Louisiana Coastal Restoration Plan)

Executive Summary

The Gulf of Mexico is essential to our nation and our economy, providing valuable seafood, recreational opportunities, transportation routes and ports, energy resources, and a rich cultural heritage. However, the region has been significantly impacted in recent years. The Gulf of Mexico ecosystem has experienced loss of critical wetland habitats, erosion of barrier islands, overfished fish stocks, water quality degradation, significant coastal land loss, and, in 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the largest spill in our nation’s history. To help the region recover, Congress passed the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act), which included authorization and funding for a Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Science, Observation, Monitoring, and Technology Program to be administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

This science plan lays out a path forward for the Program, commonly known as the NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program, beginning with the Program’s vision for ‘the long-term sustainability of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and the communities that depend on it’ and its mission, as defined in the RESTORE Act, ‘to carry out research, observation, and monitoring to support, to the maximum extent practicable, the long-term sustainability of the ecosystem, fish stocks, fish habitat, and the recreational, commercial, and charter-fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico.’ The legislative requirements of the RESTORE Act also led to the Program’s goal to support the science and coordination necessary for better understanding and management of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, leading to:

• Healthy, diverse, sustainable, and resilient estuarine, coastal and marine habitats and living resources (including wildlife and fisheries); and

• Resilient and adaptive coastal communities. By pursuing this mission and accomplishing this goal, the Program anticipates the following outcomes:

• The Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem is understood in an integrative, holistic manner; and

• Management of, and restoration activities within, the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem are guided by this ecosystem understanding.