Gulf of Mexico
Photo courtesy of NOAA.gov

Louisiana to Host National Meeting on Gulf Dead Zone

Scientists, federal officials and concerned citizens to gather in Baton Rouge

BATON ROUGE, La. – May 8, 2019 – The current state of the “dead zone” off Louisiana’s coast and efforts to reduce it will be discussed by the national Mississippi River Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force at a public meeting that will also be broadcast via webcast at 8:30 a.m. on May 16, 2019, at the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center, 201 Lafayette Street.

There is no charge whether attending or logging into the webcast. However, advance registration is required at (Registration Link).  Additional information on the agenda and webcast will be available at that site.

The role of the Mississippi River Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force is to provide a working collaboration among 12 states, 5 federal agencies, and tribes to reduce nutrient pollution in the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basins and the extent of the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico. The meeting will enable partners and stakeholders to engage and learn from each other, discuss new data and studies, and learn of innovative approaches to reduce nutrient levels in the Mississippi River and the resulting hypoxic zone.

The hypoxic zone is an area of low oxygen that forms off the Louisiana coast each summer. According to the EPA, the “dead zone” is caused by excess nutrients from the Mississippi River flowing into the Gulf and seasonal water stratification (layering), resulting in increased algae growth. As the algae die and decompose along the ocean floor, oxygen is depleted and hypoxia occurs. Marine life unable to flee the low oxygen areas face mortality, potentially disrupting fishing industries and ecosystems all along Louisiana’s coast.

“Louisiana is on the receiving end of most of the nation’s nutrient runoff as the Mississippi River system drains through our state and into the Gulf off our shores,” said La. Gov. John Bel Edwards. “It is a national problem. No one state alone can fix this. But working together across state lines for the greater good, the goals of this task force are definitely achievable.”
According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico is one of the largest in the world.

Hypoxia Task Force goals include a 20 percent reduction in the average nutrient load of nitrogen and phosphorus in the river by 2025, and shrinking the hypoxic zone to less than 1,950 square miles by 2035.###

Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority is the single state entity with authority to develop, articulate, implement, and enforce a comprehensive coastal Master Plan of unified vision, to reduce tropical storm surge flood impact, to restore our bountiful natural resources, to build land to protect our nation’s critical energy infrastructure, and to secure Louisiana’s coast now and for future generations.