Sportsmen To Congress: Use Oil Spill Fines to Restore the Gulf

"It's time for Congress to step up and support restoring the Gulf and protecting our nation's hunting and fishing heritage."

06-14-2011 // Lacey McCormick

Outdoor industry leaders from across the country met with their members of Congress today, urging them to dedicate the Clean Water Act penalties from last summer’s oil spill towards restoring the Gulf.

Vanishing Paradise, a joint effort of the National Wildlife Federation and Ducks Unlimited, organized the effort and took out a full-page ad in Politico magazine with support from over 20 of the top hunting and angling companies and conservation organizations in the country, including The Sportsman Channel, B.A.S.S., The American Sportfishing Association, Drake Waterfowl, Frabill, Webley & Scott, and Lund Boats.

“The oil spill sent over 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf, oiling hundreds of miles of shore and closing tens of thousands of square miles of fishing areas,” Land Tawney, senior manager of sportsmen leadership for NWF, said. “It is our responsibility as Americans to do right by the Gulf.”

Restoration Needed to Protect Mississippi River Delta Hunting and Fishing Traditions

The oil spill particularly impacted the Mississippi River Delta, a region that hosts as many as 10 million ducks and geese every winter and offers some of the best fresh and saltwater fishing in the country.

Beaver Dam, Louisiana

“The Gulf Coast has incredibly diverse fishing opportunities and is the country’s most important wintering habitat for ducks and geese,” Tawney said. “These fragile coastal wetlands are the nursery for the Gulf’s food web and restoring the health of this region is vital to the nation’s economic interest.”

The Gulf Coast supports a $23 billion dollar fishing industry—with the Mississippi River Delta region alone providing 30% of the seafood caught domestically. But the Gulf was in trouble even before the oil spill, with the Gulf Coast as a whole losing an estimated 60,000 acres of wetlands annually.

The Mississippi River Delta is losing land particularly rapidly—on average, an area of wetlands the size of a football field disappears every hour.

“We’re calling on Congress to dedicate the Clean Water Act fines to Gulf restoration,” Tawney continued. “The money from these penalties rightfully belongs at work restoring the places affected. It’s time for Congress to step up and support restoring the Gulf and protecting our nation’s hunting and fishing heritage.”

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