$33 Million for Seabird Restoration Approved in by Deepwater Horizon Trustees

Last edited 09/28/2023
Gannet head

Representing a major win for habitat restoration for seabirds injured by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Open Ocean Trustee Implementation Group released its Final Open Ocean Restoration Plan 3 (PDF, 335 pages) on September 15, 2023. The restoration plan includes seven projects, with a combined budget of $33 million, that will help restore seabirds that were injured by the oil spill and are found in the Gulf of Mexico. The projects are scheduled to begin implementation within the next year.

The plan and its projects represent the largest commitment to date of Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment funds for restoring injured seabird species, and includes restoration actions in Canada, the northeastern United States, and the Caribbean. The projects will:

  • Enhance seabird nesting success by managing predators and invasive mammals.
  • Improve nesting habitat by managing vegetation and removing marine debris.
  • Enhance nesting colonies by attracting seabirds to suitable nesting areas.
  • Manage human disturbance and prevent reintroduction of invasive species.
  • Develop voluntary, innovative strategies for commercial fishermen to reduce seabird bycatch.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service committed hundreds of hours to developing these projects, working with stakeholders, including the First Nations of Canada, and government agencies in Canada and Puerto Rico.

A draft of the plan was released in March 2023. During the public comment period, more than 13,000 correspondences were received. The plan received many thoughtful comments and overwhelming support, particularly with respect to restoration planning beyond political boundaries. A summary of changes made based on public comments is provided in Chapter 1 of the final restoration plan, and the Trustees’ responses to comments received are provided in Chapter 6.

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