Now in the Gulf!
Oil is spilling into the Gulf of Mexico from a location on the gulf floor 50 miles southeast of Venice, La. As efforts are made to halt the release, emergency responders and volunteers are working to keep the oil from reaching wetlands, fisheries and beaches in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida and to contend with oil that has begun washing on shore.
EDEN and eXtension have recognized and supported Gulf Coast Sea Grant members' lead in providing information and expertise. In addition to linking to the Sea Grant oil spill website, EDEN has added the disaster to its Response Notes utility, an online feature that allows delegates to capture and share their disaster situations, needs and activities. Extension directors in five Gulf states first conferenced on May 6 to discuss Extension's response, and those calls continue on a weekly basis. This site is developed to help implement their developing strategy.
Challenges for Extension
Cooperative Extension and Sea Grant program directors in the five-state area have identified their current issues and program directions. EDEN is working with the directors, using this site to help implement their strategy for educational response to these challenges:
- Maintaining consumer confidence in Gulf seafood safety and quality
- Assessing damage and economic impacts on various sectors
- Managing volunteers and donations
- Responding to media inquiries and calls for experts
- Helping fishermen and others impacted by the spill understand recovery opportunities and assistance
- Helping communities adjust to the spill-induced economic and social stresses
- Understanding the response structure, fiscal responsibilites, and legal frameworks for a disaster not governed by the Stafford Act
- Remediating the effects of the oil in the water and on our coasts
If you are experiencing a challenge that is not reflected in this list, please let your Extension director or program leader know and make that need known through the Reponse Notes utilit
EDEN/Extension Next Steps
Directors have appointed members to the gulf response task forces. These task forces will help develop our EDEN, eXtension and Sea Grant websites, guide our response and recovery efforts, and respond to inquiries. The initial areas for which expert teams have been assembled include the following:
- Communications and public relations
- Damage assessments and disaster assistance for fisheries and aquaculture
- Seafood safety, quality and confidence
- Family Stress and Finance
- Oil spill remediation (not yet formed)
Information for the public will be provided through eXtension. Links to that information and to recent oil spill RSS feeds from eXtension can be found in the Oil Spill/eXtension section of this web site.
Commercial Fishery Disaster Assistance
"Disaster relief may be provided by the federal government to assist the fishing industry when it is affected by a commercial fishery failure. A commercial fishery failure occurs when fishermen endure hardships resulting from fish population declines or other disruptions to the fishery. The Department of Commerce can provide disaster assistance under either § 308 of the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act (16 U.S.C. § 4107), as amended, or § 312(a) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C § 1861(a)). The National Marine Fisheries Service plays a central role in determining whether a disaster has occurred and in allocating federal funding to states and affected fishing communities. Congress plays a pivotal role by appropriating funds and providing oversight of the process." (Opening paragraph of the Summary of a Congressional Research Report for Congress, updated May, 2008.)
The Department of Commerce can provide disaster assistance under either the MSFCMA or the IFA. Differences exist under each law with regard to the causes of a fishery failure, and the use of funds. Several recent fishery failures have been declared under both laws, providing program managers greater latitude in matching relief with the needs of recipients. A table showing causes and uses for funds for these declarations in included in the report.
Louisiana began requesting a declaration of fisheries failure in early May, 2010, for impacts of the Gulf oil spill.