A Once and Future Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem

The Deepwater Horizon disaster in April 2010 released more oil into the marine environment than any previous U.S. oil spill. This spill has already taken a great ecological and economic toll on the Gulf of Mexico, but it may be years before we know the full extent of the damage from the oil and the chemical dispersants used to break it up.

As harmful as it was, the Deepwater Horizon blowout was just the most visible, recent problem threatening the health of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. Chronic overfishing, coastal development and global climate change have degraded and undermined the resilience of the Gulf environment.

The Pew Environment Group assembled a team of 18 preeminent ocean scientists and other leading experts to identify strategies and specific actions for a successful recovery of the Gulf of Mexico. Our new report, A Once and Future Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem, presents this working group's recommendations for recovering Gulf resources and restoring this natural system.

The report recommends going beyond the traditional restoration approach that targets specific habitats or species damaged by the oil. Instead, it focuses on the Gulf of Mexico as a whole because it is a complex and continuously changing system that must support the needs of plants, wildlife and humans alike. This inclusive approach is the only way the Gulf can truly recover and thrive in an unpredictable future.