BOEM to fund assessment program for protected species in Gulf of Mexico

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has joined federal partners to launch intensive marine assessment program for protected species in the Gulf of Mexico.

BOEM said on Wednesday that it is funding and participating in a federal research partnership that launched an intensive three-year program to improve assessment studies of protected marine species in the Gulf of Mexico.

The initiative is using aerial surveys, ship-based surveys, and satellite tagging to collect information on the abundance and distribution of marine mammals, seabirds, and sea turtles in the Gulf to inform federally mandated environmental assessments related to offshore energy and marine minerals development.

The partnership, known as the Gulf of Mexico Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species (GoMMAPPS), was recently finalized through signed agreements between BOEM, NOAA Fisheries, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region, and the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Wetlands and Aquatic Research Center.

Together, these federal agencies will collect the information on protected marine species in the Gulf, including spatial and temporal information from near-shore to the outer extent of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone.

BOEM’s environmental studies program funds research to inform its decision-making processes. To this end, funding of GoMMAPPS will help the mitigation and monitoring of impact-producing factors, including underwater noise, vessel traffic, entanglement, trash and debris, discharges and produced water, and accidental spills.

The bureau is contributing $7.5 million incrementally over four years while other partners are contributing vessels and staffing. The data collected should provide additional information for the long-term restoration and recovery of the Gulf ecosystem.