Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Director LaDon Swann is one of 34 scientists and business leaders named to the Mississippi Gulf of Mexico Commission, a broad-based panel that will report on the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and aid in the development of a long-term vision to enhance the Gulf of Mexico for the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
“In the wake of the oil spill, we have an opportunity to address any number of issues in a comprehensive way, not just for right now, but into the future,” Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said in an Aug. 16 Governor’s Office press release. “This commission will have a wide charge, from preliminarily determining the impact of the oil spill on Gulf ecosystems to addressing concerns about seafood safety to improving hurricane protection and habitat restoration. The Gulf of Mexico is the driving force of the Gulf Coast economy, so effective long-term planning and action to improve this asset will result in long-term economic growth for the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”
The commission will work closely with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance and various state agencies to develop a plan to submit to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, the former Mississippi governor tapped to lead the long-term restoration of the Gulf of Mexico, the release said. The commission’s first meeting is scheduled for 2:30 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 17, on the 7th floor of the Hancock Bank, 2510 14th St., Gulfport.
Other commission members include Co-Chairs Bill Walker, director of the Department of Marine Resources, and Trudy Fisher, director of the Department of Environmental Quality; Richard Gollott representing seafood processors; Tom Becker representing the Mississippi Gulf Coast Charter Boats Association; Vernon Asper, marine science professor at the University of Southern Mississippi; Ray Highsmith, director of the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology at Ole Miss; David Shaw, vice president for Research and Economic Development at Mississippi State University; Jay Grimes, professor of marine microbial ecology at USM; Ron Peresich, chairman of the Gulf Coast Business Council; John Hairston with Hancock Bank; Jerry St. Pe, Jackson County businessman; Chuck Benvenutti, Hancock County businessman; Robert Khayat, former Ole Miss chancellor; Frances Turnage with the State Port Commission; Hank Bounds, Institutes of Higher Learning commissioner; Steve Renfroe with Chevron; Tish Williams, director of the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce; Sen. Tommy Moffatt; Rep. Frances Fredericks; 11 mayors; and the presidents of the Jackson, Harrison, and Hancock county boards of supervisors.
Representatives of state and local governments will act as ex-officio members.