WASHINGTON – Members of a recreational-angling coalition lauded introduction of U.S. Senate legislation that would facilitate cleanup of areas affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership announced today.

The bipartisan RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act of 2011 would establish a Gulf Coast ecosystem restoration council, a science and fisheries endowment and a Gulf Coast Centers of Excellence to channel recovery efforts. Under the RESTORE Act, 80 percent of Clean Water Act penalties charged to BP would be dedicated to restoration of the Gulf Coast, with recovery efforts commencing immediately.

Members of the ad hoc Gulf Spill Recreational Fishing Response Group, convened by the TRCP to provide insights into rehabilitating the fisheries, habitat and sport-fishing economy devastated by the oil spill, commended the bill’s introduction.

“This legislation targets important resources to the Gulf region,” Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation and chairman of the GSRFRG steering committee. “We commend the Gulf state senators for their leadership on this critical legislation.”

“This funding is critical to the restoration of the Gulf,” said David Cresson, executive director of the Coastal Conservation Association, Louisiana, and GSRFRG co-chair, “and we are very glad that this legislation recognizes the importance of our coastal resources.”

In May, the TRCP released a report outlining recommendations for restoration of the Gulf of Mexico’s fisheries, fish and wildlife habitat, and economy following last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill. “The Gulf Spill Recreational Fishing Response Group: Recommendations for Resource Recovery” culminates a TRCP-facilitated outreach effort with local stakeholders and experts in the Gulf region as well as discussions with leaders in the Gulf recreational fishing and conservation communities.

“Overwhelmingly, recreational anglers expressed to us the need for long-term, dedicated funding in the Gulf region to address the repercussions of the oil spill,” said Geoff Mullins, TRCP senior director of policy initiatives and communications, “and this recommendation forms the core of our report. The RESTORE Act responds directly to the consensus priorities of recreational anglers throughout the Gulf, and we appreciate the Senate’s attention to this important conservation and economic issue.”

The Gulf of Mexico is one of the most popular areas for recreational fishing in the United States. Recreational fishing contributes $8 billion in economic output in the Gulf Coast region annually and supports more than 82,000 jobs.

 

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