The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) was established by a $500 million commitment from BP in response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The 10-year research program aims to mitigate the impacts of hydrocarbon pollution and stressors on the marine environment and public health from the spill, as well as improve society’s understanding of oil spill issues. GoMRI provides support to the Sea Grant programs of the Gulf of Mexico (Florida, Mississippi-Alabama, Louisiana and Texas) for an extension and outreach effort to increase the use of oil spill science by people whose livelihoods depend on a healthy Gulf. This is a new model of a private entity engaging with the four Sea Grant programs in the Gulf of Mexico to develop a regional outreach program.
- Share emerging oil spill science with target audiences.
- Collect input from target audience to inform the Sea Grant outreach program,
and deliver input to the GoMRI Research Board to assist in assessing the
direction of its investments.
The oil spill science outreach program allows Sea Grant specialists to find out what types of information target audiences want and develop tailor-made products for those audiences. The outreach specialists produce a variety of materials, such as fact sheets and bulletins, focused on meeting stakeholder information needs. The specialists also gather input from target audiences through workshops and work with researchers to share oil spill research results at science seminars that are facilitated by the specialists. The program’s outreach materials and events offer information about numerous published GoMRI research findings on such topics as dispersants, fisheries issues and tar balls.
The program has four oil spill science outreach specialists who work with the constituent groups listed:
• Elected officials
• Emergency responders or managers
• Environmental non-profit staff members
• Fishers, commercial
• Fishers, for-hire
• Fishers, recreational
• Natural resource managers
• GoMRI outreach specialists
• Port and harbor employees
• Public health officials
• Tourism specialists
• University and college researchers
The specialists work as a team to implement outreach programs at a state and regional level. In addition, the program engages with the 29 other Sea Grant college programs throughout the nation to provide the latest oil spill science information.