Unified Attack on Oil Spill Aftermath

Florida and Gulf neighbors join forces in marine science research collaborative to better study the Gulf of Mexico.



The R/V Weatherbird II, carrying a crew of USF College of Marine Science researchers, surveyed damage to the marine environment caused by the spill.


By Vickie Chachere

USF News

 

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 19, 2011) – The Florida Institute of Oceanography and marine research groups in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas are joining forces to focus greater scientific attention and resources on the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the BP oil spill disaster.

 

The entities in the five states have formed the Gulf Research Collaborative, an organization that will promote and organize greater cooperation between marine science colleges and institutes in the five states bordering the Gulf of Mexico. The collaborative’s goal is to combine expertise, share resources and work jointly on initiatives that will enhance the Gulf of Mexico’s coastal marine science, oceanography and related management programs through research, education and public outreach.

 

“The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was a wakeup call for our nation to the vital importance of science in the Gulf of Mexico,” said William Hogarth, interim director of the Florida Institute of Oceanography. The group is meeting in New Orleans on the first anniversary of the spill.

 

“Before the spill, Gulf scientists were hampered by a lack of funding, coordination and national focus on the Gulf and its challenges. Now as our nation seeks to understand the impact of the BP spill and pursues a comprehensive restoration effort, it is imperative that scientists from the five Gulf states – who lead the world in their expertise of this unique body of water – work together to support each other’s work and maximize what remain scarce scientific resources.”

 

The collaborative will be headquartered at the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science in St. Petersburg under an agreement signed by the Alabama Marine Environmental Science Consortium, the Florida Institute of Oceanography, Louisiana State University, the Mississippi Research Consortium and the Texas Research Consortium.

 

George Crozier, Senior Marine Scientist and Executive Director of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama will serve as Gulf Research Chair. His first task is to lead efforts to hire a coordinator who will be charged with organizing and carrying out the collaborative’s efforts.

 

“Ironically, this unfortunate event may have provided both the emphasis and opportunity for the marine institutions around the Gulf to build more collaborative and efficient research programs,” Crozier said.

 

The collaborative has defined its mission to:

 

  • Serve as a university-based, multi-state organization to respond to disasters that endanger the Gulf of Mexico’s marine life, seabed, water column, surface, shoreline and communities which are dependent on the ecosystem.
  • Develop and promote research initiatives and coordinate infrastructure and personnel for marine research initiatives.
  • Support, lead and participate in conference and other educational opportunities related to the Gulf.
  • Seek opportunities to collectively advocate to and collaborate with local, state and federal organizations that advance science in the Gulf.

·         Support and facilitate the efforts of scientists, educators and students at its member institutions.

 

Vickie Chachere can be reached at 813-974-6251.