From DEP news:
GULF OF MEXICO ALLIANCE HOLDS FOURTH FLORIDA PUBLIC WORKSHOP
~Workshop highlights Alliance's environmental and economic accomplishments and seeks public input on future priorities~
TAMPA – The Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) held a public workshop today at the Florida Aquarium to gain input from the community and a variety of stakeholders on the draft Governors' Action Plan II. The plan outlines GOMA's priorities and goals for the next five years. The workshop also reviewed GOMA's recent accomplishments in Florida, including local successes in the areas of water quality and nutrient loading. This is the last workshop in a series of four held in Florida to involve the public in GOMA's strategy to enhance the economic and environmental health of the Gulf of Mexico.
"With more than 120 participants attending the first three public workshops in Naples, Sarasota and Apalachicola, we are pleased to have the public share their ideas about the Gulf of Mexico," said Alliance Management Team Member, and Florida Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) Director for the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve, Seth Blitch. "Community input will be considered as we shape the Governors' Action Plan II, which is scheduled to be finalized later this year."
DEP's Office of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas (CAMA) has been instrumental in planning and hosting the four public workshops. The first two were hosted by the staffs of the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve, which are managed by DEP. CAMA also partnered directly with Mote Marine Laboratory, the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, the Florida Coastal Management Program, the Florida Aquarium and the Tampa Bay Estuary Program to reach diverse stakeholders and to engage the private sector in these important workshops.
Established in 2005, the Gulf of Mexico Alliance is a federal-state partnership initiated by the five Gulf States which include Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. The goal of GOMA is to significantly increase regional collaboration in order to enhance the economic and environmental health of the Gulf. The 2006 Governors' Action Plan for Healthy and Resilient Coasts set the stage for a long-term regional partnership to address six priority issues. Today, more than 90 percent of the actions defined have been completed or are now in progress. When complete, the Governors' Action Plan II will guide GOMA priorities and projects for the next five years.
Climate change, improving coastal water quality and restoring coastal habitats are some of the primary issues identified by stakeholders including community members, business owners, government agencies and not-for-profit organizations who attended the first three workshops. Participants also offered creative ideas about reaching young people through educational websites, building coastal communities that are resilient to storms and mapping Gulf-wide ecosystems.
The Gulf of Mexico is the ninth largest water body in the world, accounting for half the wetlands in the United States and abounding with sea life, ranging from killer whales to unexplored deepwater corals living thousands of feet below the surface. With some 3,400 miles of shoreline from Cape Sable, Florida to the tip of the Yucatan peninsula, the Gulf is bordered by Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas to the north, Mexico to the west and the island of Cuba to the southeast.
For more information about the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, the 2006 Governors' Action Plan for Healthy and Resilient Coasts and the status on the six critical priority issues visit www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org. For more information about the Florida community input workshops, visit www.supportthegulf.org. For more information on DEP's Office of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas, visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal.