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The Deepwater Horizon disaster and wetland

Compiled by Dennis F. Whigham, Chair, Stephen W. Broome, Curtis J. Richardson, Robert L. Simpson and Loren M. Smith, SWS Environmental Concerns Committee

Coastal wetlands are essential components of healthy and productive coastal fisheries, and nowhere within the lower 48 states has the critical linkage between wetlands and fisheries resources been more clearly demonstrated than in the Gulf Mexico (e.g., Chesney et al. 2000, Crain et al. 1979). Louisiana alone, for example, generates 30% of the nation’s seafood production (Day et. al., 2005) and accounts for 40% of the total wetlands in the conterminous United States (Richardson and Pahl 2006). The ongoing loss of wetland resources in the Gulf of Mexico and the potential economic and environmental costs, especially in Louisiana and Florida, is an issue of international concern. The impacts of the current oil spill are unknown but the potential for direct and indirect environmental damage to coastal ecosystem services are extraordinary. Both the oil and the activities used in the cleanup have the potential to adversely affect wetland flora and fauna. Continue reading.


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