zoom NOAA and its fellow Natural Resource Damage Assessment trustees in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have announced the signing of a formal Record of Decision to implement a Gulf restoration plan.The 44 projects, totaling an estimated USD 627 million, will restore barrier islands, shorelines, dunes, underwater grasses and oyster beds. Of those, NOAA is directly involved in the implementation of four projects.As explained by NOAA, this announcement marks the largest suite of Gulf early restoration projects selected thus far in the wake of the 2010 oil spill.The projects aim to address a range of injuries to natural resources and the subsequent loss of recreational use. Kathryn D. Sullivan, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, said: “These projects reflect an earnest commitment to the Gulf and will enhance the region’s economic, social, and ecological resilience in the future.”The largest NOAA project partnership will be with Louisiana to fund and execute restoration of beach, dune, and back-barrier marsh habitat on Chenier Ronquille, a barrier island off the state’s coast. Chenier Ronquille is one of four barrier islands proposed for restoration as part of the Louisiana Outer Coast Restoration Project that will be implemented by NOAA, the U.S. Department of Interior and Louisiana. The total cost to restore the four barrier islands is expected to be USD 318 million.Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and NOAA will partner to undertake three “living shorelines” projects. These projects involve a blend of restoration technologies used to stabilize shorelines and restore fish and wildlife habitat. The three projects are:Alabama: NOAA will work with the state to fully implement the Swift Tract Living Shoreline Project. This project, costing USD 5 million, will construct approximately 1.6 miles of breakwaters covered with oyster shell to reduce shoreline erosion, protect salt marsh habitat, and restore ecosystem diversity and productivity in Mobile Bay. Restoration experts expect that over time, the breakwaters will develop into reefs, providing added reproductive and foraging habitat and shelter from predators. The 615-acre state-owned Swift Tract site is located in Bon Secour Bay and is part of the NOAA-supported Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Florida: NOAA will partner with Florida for the Florida Pensacola Bay Living Shoreline Project to restore shoreline at two sites along the Pensacola waterfront. Project Greenshores Site II is located immediately west of Muscogee Wharf in downtown Pensacola. Restoration at PGS Site II has been planned in conjunction with the Sanders Beach site, three miles to the west. Both proposed sites feature breakwaters that will provide four acres of reef habitat and protect the 18.8 acres of salt marsh habitat that will be created through this project. The Pensacola project is expected to cost about USD 11 million.Mississippi: NOAA will partner with the state to improve nearly six miles of shoreline as part of the proposed Hancock County Marsh Living Shoreline Project. The goal of the project is to reduce shoreline erosion by dampening wave energy and encouraging reestablishment of habitat in the region. The estimated cost is USD 50 million.As the largest phase of early restoration efforts, Phase III sets a strategic approach for these and additional early restoration activities. The trustees received thousands of public comments that were instrumental in its development, and has issued a guide to the plan and projects.These projects will be funded through the USD 1 billion provided to the trustees by BP, as part of the 2011 Framework Agreement on early restoration.Ten early restoration projects already are in various stages of implementation as part of the first two phases of early restoration. Updates on these projects are available in an interactive atlas.Press Release, October 06, 2014;Images: USCG, NOAA
New York – “Venezuela, which is the last dictatorship in Latin America, has no legitimacy to attack Morocco and the recovery of its Sahara,” Morocco’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Omar Hilale, said during the 4th Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations.This came following a statement of Venezuela’s ambassador, who described the Sahara as “the last colony in Africa.”Morocco “recovered its Sahara which was under Spanish occupation, while Venezuela claims half of Guyana’s territory under the pretext of territorial integrity,” he pointed out, adding that “Venezuela will become the first colonizer of the 21st century.” “Saharawi population in Laayoune, Dakhla and Smara live in freedom, without fear or violation of their rights. This is not the case in the last dictatorship in Latin America. Venezuelan political leaders are kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured and innocent demonstrators are killed on the streets of Caracas,” he went on.According to US media, “citizens’ quality of life in the Sahara is a thousand times better than that of citizens in the last dictatorship in Latin America,” he noted.Some 28 heads of State sent a motion to the Chairman of the African Union for the immediate suspension of the so-called “Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic,” Hilale said, noting that several countries withdrew their recognition of the so-called SADR. This was the case for Zambia and Jamaica, who withdrew their recognition of “SARD” recently, he said.Soon there will be no country to recognize this ghostly republic, the ambassador added.