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Congressional Staff Briefing: Ocean Frontiers - The Dawn of a New Era in Ocean Stewardship I

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Published on May 5, 2012

May 4, 2012

Bill Walker, Gulf of Mexico Alliance Management Team; Executive Director, Mississippi Department of Marine Resources

Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture; President of National Association of State Departments of Agriculture; Co-chair, Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force

• As a result of decades of neglect, development over wetlands, discharge from cities and industries, man-made and natural disasters, and numerous other factors, the Gulf of Mexico has come to symbolize loss.

• In March 2006 the five Gulf Coast Governors created the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, an agreement to govern regionally, rather than on a state-by-state basis, the ecological system that each of their states depends on for a broad array of economic sectors.

• The Mississippi River collects drainage from 31 states. What happens in states throughout the Mid-West impacts the Gulf and the ocean.

• The Gulf of Mexico Alliance is creating financial incentives for Iowa farmers to modify fertilizer use, providing insurance that guarantees payback if yields suffered on account of fertilizer change.

• The Alliance is creating natural filters - wetlands - to stop runoff from Iowa farms from entering the river. Seventy nutrient reduction wetlands have been created below watersheds, which reduce the amount of nitrogen in the water.

• Replanting native tall grass prairies is another method used to tackle the hypoxia in Gulf ecosystems. Prairie buffers in between cornfields yielded 90-95% reduction of sediment loss, and 85-90% in total nitrogen and phosphorus runoff into water.

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