Cleanup and Restoration

Weathered oil on Grande Terre
Gerry Ellis

Weathered oil on Louisiana's Grand Terre Island nearly one year into the disaster.

The continued well-being of the birds, wildlife and people of the Gulf depends on addressing the immediate impacts of the disaster and on taking action to restore the long-term health of an ecosystem suffering from a host of ills.

Mitigate Spill Impacts

The continued presence of oil and disaster-related debris in many Important Bird Areas makes it clear that BP must continue cleaning up as much oil as possible--and do so in ways that minimize harm to birds, other organisms, and their habitats.

  • Continue cleanup of beaches as residual oil comes ashore or is discovered.
  • Avoid damaging fragile marshes and beaches with aggressive cleanup techniques.
  • Minimize disturbance to birds and wildlife from cleanup crews.
  • Remove stray boom, bags of soiled material, and other debris from the environment.
  • Reverse temporary protection measures that diminish habitat health.

Monitor and Act

Scientists, government agencies, and conservation groups must remain vigilant, carefully monitoring populations and responding quickly to any emerging threats or declines observed in the months and years ahead.

  • Determine how much oil remains underwater, and better understand its potential  contact with organisms and dispersion through the ecosystem.
  • Monitor ecosystem health, including wildlife populations.
  • Research the long-term effects and toxicity of oil and dispersants. Conservation and restoration strategies depend on more knowledge of lingering effects from chronic exposure to toxic compounds in the environment.

System-wide Conservation

BP's oil adds to the many perils already facing birds, ecosystems and people along the Gulf Coast. The following are some essential steps toward restoration.

  • Provide the dedicated funding needed to ensure full restoration of Gulf Coast  ecosystems, including dedication of Clean Water Act penalties to Gulf restoration.
  • Reconnect the Mississippi River to its delta in Louisiana. This hugely important Gulf Coast ecosystem is disintegrating at the rate of 25 square miles per year. River flows must be reestablished to begin countering this catastrophic collapse.
  • Create new habitat and build up existing islands by using dredged sediment from major navigable waterways.
  • Help counteract the loss of natural breeding areas for birds like the Brown Pelican by creating manmade islands.
  • Reduce pollution and excess nutrients entering coastal habitats and the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Minimize human disturbance of vulnerable beach-nesting birds like Least Tern, Wilson's Plover and Snowy Plover, particularly in Important Bird Areas.
  • Protect critical bird nesting and feeding areas - especially designated Important Bird Areas - from development and alteration.
  • Ensure that all energy projects - whether fossil fuel extraction or renewable energy development - are conducted in conformity with the strictest environmental safeguards and review, recognizing that some areas should be protected from all forms of development forever.
  • Cut greenhouse gas emissions to reduce the amount of sea-level rise.
  • Control non-native invasive species that harm Gulf Coast habitats and wildlife.
  • Manage fisheries carefully, according to the best available science, to avoid overexploitation, population collapse, habitat destruction, or by-catch of birds or turtles.