​A hawksbill sea turtle swims in the Gulf of Mexico. | Credit: iStock, Brian Lasenby

Conservation in the Gulf of Mexico, five years after the spill

Statement from Jeff Trandahl, Executive Director and CEO of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation:

“The fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster offers us the chance to reflect on our collective efforts to restore and enhance wildlife populations and habitats affected by the oil spill, and to look ahead to opportunities to address conservation priorities for the Gulf of Mexico.

“The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) has been investing in on-the-ground conservation programs along the Gulf Coast since long before the spill occurred. Our track record of implementing science-based conservation efforts in the region positioned the Foundation to play a leading conservation role in the aftermath of the spill.

“In 2010, NFWF established the Recovered Oil Fund for Wildlife to help government agencies, conservation organizations, scientists and others provide immediate aid to sea turtles, shorebirds, oysters, fish and other wildlife imperiled by the spill.

“NFWF’s role in Gulf recovery efforts expanded even further in 2013. Following a federal court’s approval of two plea agreements resolving certain criminal cases against BP and Transocean, NFWF established the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF). Through this new fund, more than $2.5 billion in legal settlement funds will benefit the natural resources of the Gulf Coast that were impacted by the spill.

“Since the establishment of the GEBF, the Foundation has worked extensively with federal and state agencies to identify and fund conservation projects that maximize benefits to the Gulf’s diverse natural resources and to the local communities that depend on them. Projects funded through the GEBF already have helped ensure the recovery and sustainability of coastal wildlife and habitats from Florida through Texas. Landscape-scale efforts funded through the GEBF have focused on everything from seagrass beds, oyster reefs and sea turtle nesting sites to offshore reef communities and coastal habitats for migrating waterfowl, shorebirds and seabirds.

“Much remains to be done. The Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill was a tragic event in our nation’s history, one that claimed 11 lives and wreaked havoc across the Gulf Coast. As we mark the fifth anniversary of the disaster, the Foundation remains deeply committed to ensuring that the resources we have been entrusted with will be used to create a better future for wildlife, habitats and the residents of the Gulf Coast.”

To see a timeline detailing events following the 2010 spill, click here.