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Ecological and Economic Vitality of the Gulf of Mexico

by Jaken Frazier | Nov 21, 2011
The concepts of ecosystem services applied to the assessment of damage from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and to restoration in the Gulf of Mexico were presented in two coffeehouse-style discussions on Capitol Hill, November 16.

The concepts of ecosystem services applied to the assessment of damage from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and to restoration in the Gulf of Mexico were presented in two coffeehouse-style discussions on Capitol Hill, November 16. The briefings were organized to convey the results of the National Research Council’s interim report on the methods and metrics that can be used to evaluate the effects of the spill on ecosystem services such as food provisioning, storm surge protection, tourism, and fishing among others. David Malakoff, Policy Reporter, Science magazine, led both panels that included Dr. Nancy Rabalais, LUMCON and member of the NRC panel; Dr. Heather Tallis, Chief Scientist of the Natural Capital Project; Mr. Timothy Reilly, Managing Partner, CatVest Petroleum, LLC; and Ms. Robin Barnes, Executive Vice President, Greater New Orleans, Inc. The restoration of ecosystem services is a complement to the National Resource Damage Assessment currently in process by the Trustees (federal and state) in response to damage from the oil spill. Damage assessments typically measure losses in acreage of marsh or number of birds and so on. An ecosystem services approach, however, will capture the whole value provided by large ecosystems, to establish and maintain the usefulness of those resources to the public. The briefings were sponsored by COMPASS (Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea), the National Research Council of the National Academies, and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. See Showstack, R., Eos, Vol. 92, No. 47, 22 November 2011, and http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record id =13141.

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