Sea Briefs is a report on the results of the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium.
Editor: Melissa Schneider
is available in PDF format from:
MASGC supports applied, interdisciplinary marine science research, education and outreach efforts to foster the sustainable development and management of the Mississippi and Alabama coasts and nearshore ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico
Members of the seafood industry, community leaders, Sea Grant extension specialists and representatives from state and federal agencies, met in May with two Alaskans who lived through the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
In 1989, Joe Banta and Torie Baker were Alaskan fishermen when the Exxon Valdez spilled about 11 million gallons of oil in Prince William Sound. Their experiences during the spill and the 21 years that followed seemed to take on more value when the Deepwater Horizon oil leak began in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20.
Baker, an Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Services fisheries specialist, and Banta, project manager for environmental monitoring with Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council, visited Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama the week of May 10 to share their first-hand knowledge from the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the partnerships they formed to assist the affected water-dependent industries in Prince William Sound.
“No more. We can’t let this happen to our coastline again,” said Banta as he described efforts in Alaska that led to more stringent regulations for oil companies who drill in Alaska waters.
Banta and Baker warned of the long-term stress of extended litigation. In Alaska, many claims were bundled into a class action suit against Exxon Mobil Corporation. The suit dragged on for 21 years.
They also said there is difference between communities that suffer natural disasters and those who go through technological disasters. While communities usually work together to bounce back from a natural disaster, communities going through a disaster that has a responsible party have a harder time. Technological disasters create corrosive communities that lose their sense of community and experience increases in divisiveness, alcohol and drug use, domestic violence and suicide.