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A new poll completed by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and The Nature Conservancy shows that Gulf Coast voters remain very concerned about the impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and overwhelmingly support using the fines resulting from the oil spill on Gulf restoration and conservation projects. More than three in five voters (61 percent) say that the “after-effects of the BP oil spill on natural areas and wildlife along the Gulf Coast” are an “extremely” or “very serious” problem for the region. That figure is up from 57 percent in 2013 and ranks among the top concerns of the region: the economy (67 percent), education (66 percent), and crime (62 percent).
“This poll reveals continued strong concern by the people of the Gulf region for the health of the Gulf of Mexico and the strong belief by a broad cross-section of the population that funds from the recently announced settlement with BP should be invested in restoring and conserving the natural features that make the Gulf such a beautiful, biologically rich, and productive place,” said Robert Bendick, Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Gulf of Mexico Program.
Nearly seven in ten (68 percent) voters said RESTORE Act funds “should be used mainly for restoration of our beaches, wildlife habitat, coastal areas, rivers and other waters that affect the Gulf Coast.” Just 17 percent preferred that funds “be used mainly for construction of roads, convention centers, school buildings, and other projects on the Gulf Coast.” Republicans (68 percent) were even more likely than Democrats (58 percent) to prioritize restoration projects over construction. More than a third of the residents polled said that they’ve purchased a license to hunt or fish in the last three years, and these sportsmen were also more likely to back conservation projects.
“The economy and culture of the Gulf Coast are absolutely dependent upon access to high-quality fishing and other recreational activities,” said Whit Fosburgh, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s president and CEO. “Gulf residents recognize the significance of this opportunity to repair the direct damage from the oil spill, as well as long-term threats to the quality of the entire ecosystem, using fines from the 2010 disaster. Investing in the Gulf’s fisheries, wildlife, beaches, and waters is not choosing between the ecosystem and the economy. The ecosystem is the economy.”
The bipartisan research team of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (D) and Public Opinion Strategies (R) partnered to complete this survey of registered voters along the Gulf Coast. The results show little change from a similar survey completed in 2013, illustrating that voters place a lasting value on the health of the Gulf as contributing to the region’s economy and culture.
The poll will be presented in detail today at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s annual Saltwater Media Summit, a gathering of journalists to discuss the most timely conservation policy issues impacting saltwater fishing. This year, the event takes place at ICAST, the world’s largest sportfishing trade show, where TRCP has invited science and policy experts to discuss red snapper management and harvest collection, reauthorization of the country’s major fisheries conservation law, and priority projects for Gulf Coast habitat restoration in the wake of an $18.7-billion settlement from BP. Notable speakers include Dr. Roy Crabtree of NOAA Fisheries and representatives of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, American Sportfishing Association, Center for Coastal Conservation, and Coastal Conservation Association.
Today, the National Drought Resilience Partnership (NDRP) will bring stakeholders together at the U.S. Department of the Interior for the White House Drought Symposium, made possible with the support of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP). Nearly 40 diverse stakeholder groups will be represented to discuss the federal government’s role in building drought resilience into our water management systems and the steps that federal agencies should take to forestall future drought crises. Sportsmen hope the event will result in concrete steps that the federal government can take on drought planning and 21st century approaches to water conservation that will benefit fish, wildlife, and all Americans.
“The ongoing drought crisis creates a unique opportunity to change our water management systems so they are more resilient against future threats,” said Jimmy Hague, the TRCP’s Center for Water Resources director. “The groups gathered at the symposium have a track record of implementing innovative and effective projects on the ground to improve water resources and preserve working lands, and I’m confident that our input will set the stage for federal actions for years to come.”
Sportsmen will urge the administration to advance widely-supported conservation and water-efficiency measures to meet water demands while protecting and restoring the healthy river flows that ensure access to quality fish habitat. Hunting and angling stakeholders will also call for a renewed commitment and creative approaches to conservation funding.
“As brutal drought conditions continue throughout the West, cooperation among agricultural producers, conservation interests, and municipal users is essential,” said Laura Ziemer, Trout Unlimited’s senior counsel and water policy advisor. “We appreciate the opportunity to participate in the symposium and provide recommendations based on our work with farmers and ranchers in California, the Klamath Basin, the Yakima River Basin, and the Colorado River Basin to improve irrigation systems in a way that provides drought resilience for water supplies and fisheries.”
“The Nature Conservancy supports a proactive approach to achieve healthy ecosystems and related economies in the face of drought,” said Doug Robotham, water policy director for The Nature Conservancy. “We are working with these partners to find common ground and new ways to be more efficient and effective with the water we have and ensure that we will have the water we need for years to come. California’s severe drought or that which has affected the Colorado River Basin for the last 15 years, and which may be the worst in the last 1,200 years, demand flexible and innovative approaches to meeting the fresh water needs of cities, farms, and wildlife. We are all in this together.”
Other TRCP partners in attendance will include the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. For examples of the good work these groups are doing on water projects in local communities, see our Snapshots of Success report.
We’re kicking off our fifth annual Saltwater Media Summit this week at ICAST, the world’s largest sportfishing trade show. We’re bringing together lawmakers, thought leaders, and journalists to discuss today’s most pressing saltwater angling issues.
Want some more background on the issues that we’ll be tackling? We’ve got you covered.
Check out some of these resources on red snapper management, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and Gulf Coast restoration.
Want to learn more about our Saltwater Media Summit? Check out our preview here and check back in for daily recaps, photos from the show floor, and much more!
How do you measure a quality day on the water? By total fish caught? By your biggest catch? By how many hours were spent alongside friends and family?
What about in dollars and cents?
You may not realize the dramatic impact your recreational fishing dollars have on the U.S. economy—each year, the dollars you spend on fishing boats, guides, and gear generates $115 billion in economic activity. Saltwater anglers account for $70 billion of that. This money goes to support conservation and great public access to fishing and creates thousands of jobs that support coastal communities all across the country.
That’s why we chose to host our fifth annual Saltwater Media Summit at ICAST, the world’s largest fishing trade show, where media and business leaders can experience the full economic might of the recreational fishing industry. We’re gathering science and policy experts in Orlando, Florida, to show members of the media that important saltwater conservation issues—like red snapper management, reauthorization of the country’s major marine fisheries law, and Gulf Coast restoration—are impacting our local economies just as much as our access to quality fishing.
Want to know how $18.7 billion dollars in restoration dollars will be spent? Are you and your readers frustrated with short recreational seasons for Gulf red snapper? Do you wonder what Washington lawmakers could be doing to protect your saltwater fishing access? Our experts will discuss all that and more. We’ll be providing updates throughout the week, so follow the #TRCPSummit hashtag on Twitter, or stay tuned to Facebook and the blog for more information. To find us at ICAST, contact Kristyn Brady via email.
We wouldn’t be able to break big conservation stories at ICAST without the help of our generous sponsors. We’d like to thank Bass Pro Shops, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, NOAA Fisheries, Costa, Patagonia, Pure Fishing, the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, Yamaha, the American Sportfishing Association, and the National Marine Manufacturers Association. Check out a full listing of our sponsors right here.
In the last two years, policymakers have committed to significant investments in conservation, infrastructure, and reversing climate change. Hunters and anglers continue to be vocal about the opportunity to create conservation jobs, restore habitat, and boost fish and wildlife populations. Support solutions now.Learn More