Volume 63

Management of Response Efforts to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Perspectives from a Northern Gulf of Mexico Marine and Coastal Research Laboratory.

Hendon, J.R., W.E. Hawkins, J.S. Franks, D.J. Grimes, J.M. Lotz, H.M. Perry, and C.T. Snyder
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Date: November, 2010

Pages: 374-379

Event: Proceedings of the Sixty-Third Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: San Juan

Country: Puerto Rico


The offshore oil drilling rig Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20, 2010, and sank two days later. Crude oil subsequently leaked into northern Gulf of Mexico waters continually for 84 days. The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL), an academic research institution focused on marine resources of the northern Gulf of Mexico, soon after formed an oil spill operations team to manage its response to the spill. The team was comprised of marine and fisheries scientists, outreach specialists, and administrators whose objectives were to coordinate research logistics, explore approaches to obtain investigative research funding, and develop outreach strategies. Initial response efforts focused on complying with health and safety requirements through HAZMAT training and coordinating with research partners to identify immediate sampling needs. Acquiring baseline samples not available through ongoing or historical datasets was also a priority, and numerous sampling trips were funded through institutional monies to address those needs. To position GCRL for extramural funding, research concept papers were solicited from scientists for both hypothesis-driven, investigative studies and descriptive resource assessments; funding targets for investigative studies were the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the BP Ocean Trust Fund, while resource assessments would be part of the Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) process. To date, funding has been received through the NSF RAPID programs and from early release of BP Ocean Trust Fund monies. GCRL’s outreach strategy focused on its scientists interpreting spill-related processes affecting marine resources, including a “town hall” meeting during which local citizens questioned GCRL scientists on spill-related issues

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