The Gulf of Mexico is a beautiful and bountiful place that serves as an economic driver for the country, sustaining a robust seafood industry, recreational fishing and tourism activities. The culture and economy of the Gulf depend on the health of the ecosystem — as does the wildlife that thrives there.
From its extensive salt marshes to deepwater corals, the Gulf provides sustenance to sea birds, dolphins, whales, sea turtles and many varieties of fish.
But coastal erosion, overfishing and pollution—including lingering effects from the largest unintentional marine oil spill in history—threaten wildlife and the people who depend on a healthy Gulf for jobs and the food on their plate.
For more than two decades, Ocean Conservancy has worked in the Gulf of Mexico to secure a sustainable future for the region. We are committed to doing everything we can, in coordination with all willing partners, to advocate for science-based restoration plans that go beyond the oil disaster and address the entire Gulf as one interconnected ecosystem.
The BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster demonstrated how every part of the Gulf, from far offshore waters and fisheries to coastal wetlands and communities, are connected and interdependent. It also demonstrated how much the regional economy depends on the health of the Gulf. When the oil spill hit, fishery closures and a drop-off in tourism severely hurt the local economy.
In the years since the disaster, scientists have continued to see impacts ranging from sick dolphins and dying corals to altered bluefin tuna spawning habitat and shifts in whale shark abundance and distribution.
Healthy fisheries are critical to healthy communities and the Gulf ecosystem. The Gulf of Mexico accounts for 40 percent of the commercial seafood caught in the continental United States and 41 percent of all fish caught recreationally.
The Gulf can only continue to provide us with this bounty if we ensure that we do not take too many fish out of the water, leaving too few behind to reproduce. Overfishing in the Gulf harms more than just fish; it harms the fishermen, the local economy and the many other species, from sea turtles and birds to marine mammals, that are dependent on them.
Ocean Conservancy is working to protect the future of fish and fishermen in the Gulf. Our partnerships with fishermen have led to new policies that help make fish plentiful now and into the future — and we have seen success already with economically important Gulf species like red snapper.
Degradation in the Gulf threatens fish, wildlife, the places where they live and the people who depend on a healthy ocean for jobs and business.
Our latest report highlights the top priorities for tracking the health of the Gulf.