Written by Linc Bedrosian
GULF OF MEXICO — There's now a draft plan for using fines from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill to restore the Gulf Coast's natural resources and economy.
But the document doesn't include two items required by federal law: a 10-year allocation plan or a three-year priority list of projects and programs, The Times-Picayune reports.
There are several reasons, according to the 20-page "draft initial comprehensive plan" released Thursday by The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. One is that officials don't yet know how much money the RESTORE Act trust fund will get or when it will arrive. The U.S. Treasury has not issued procedures for spending it. The council wants public input. And Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida have not yet completed their own plans.
The federal-state body will oversee billions of dollars in Clean Water Act fines from the spill. The RESTORE act allocates 80 percent of the money to restoration projects along the Gulf Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, and the rest to a trust fund to cover the cost of future oil spills.
Along with the document, it released a 112-page environmental assessment and a list of several hundred potential federal and state projects and programs that have been authorized but not yet begun, 73 of them in Louisiana.
Its list of goals for spending the money: restore and conserve habitat, restore water quality, replenish and protect living coastal and marine resources, enhance community resilience, and restore and revitalize the Gulf economy.
As a result of a settlement of Clean Water Act civil claims with Transocean, the owner and operator of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that exploded and sank during the BP Macondo well blowout in 2010, the trust fund will receive $800 million during the next two years. It has already received $320 million of that.
Read the full story at the Mississippi Business Journal>>
NOAA recently published a proposed rule that would implement a traceability plan to help combat IUU fishing. The program would seek to trace the origins of imported seafood by setting up reporting and filing procedures for products entering the U.S.
The traceability program would collect data on harvest, landing, and chain of custody of fish and fish products that have been identified as particularly vulnerable to IUU fishing and fraud.Read more...
The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:
The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.Read more...