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Gulf Guardian Award Winners 2004

Government Category - 2nd Place

Dec. 1, 2004


STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – The Gulf of Mexico Program today presented the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission with a second place Gulf Guardian Award for 2004 in the Government Category for their work in removing derelict crab traps in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The award ceremony was held aboard the Creole Queen Riverboat in New Orleans, La.

Each year thousands of crab traps are lost or abandoned in the Gulf of Mexico. Studies have shown that each derelict trap kills an average of 26 blue crabs per year. Stone crabs, red drum, spotted seatrout, sheepshead, mullet, raccoons, and opossums are also trapped and killed. Removing these traps prevents bycatch mortality and protects submerged seagrasses from the smothering effect of the traps. Removal also reduces user group conflicts and visual water pollution.

Derelict crab traps result from numerous sources including the weather or hydrological factors such as tides, currents, and storm surges and the natural aging of buoys, lines, or knots. Traps can be lost when assembled or maintained improperly, and when lines are cut unintentionally by propellers or intentionally by vandals. Even after fishermen lose or abandon traps, the traps continue to catch fish, crustaceans, turtles, and other organisms.

The Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission worked in cooperation with the state marine resource agencies in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama to remove derelict traps from their estuaries. The four state programs removed a total of 11,478 derelict traps during their 2004 clean ups saving an estimated 300,000 blue crabs. Public participation was crucial to the success of the removal programs — more than 100 community groups and 750 volunteers from diverse backgrounds were involved.

"The Gulf Guardian Award winners for 2004 are prime examples of collaborative environmental efforts leading to neighborhood solutions that transcend political boundaries,” said Benjamin Grumbles, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water in Washington, D.C. “I commend all of the winners for their innovative partnerships, common sense ideas, and hard work. Their efforts are making a difference in protecting and restoring the Gulf of Mexico.”

The Gulf of Mexico Program initiated the Gulf Guardian awards in 2000 as a way to recognize and honor the businesses, community groups, individuals, and agencies that are taking positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful and productive. The Gulf of Mexico Program began in 1988 to protect, restore, and maintain the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem in economically sustainable ways. Award entries were received from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. A first, second, and third place award are given each year in six categories – individual, business, youth and education, nonprofit organizations, government, and partnership efforts.

Gulf of Mexico Program Office Director Bryon O. Griffith said, “This year’s Gulf Guardian Award winners encapsulate the essence of the Gulf of Mexico Program and our efforts to attain environmental solutions in concert with economic growth.” “Environmental successes are exponential when you bring the resources of many to the table, as the 2004 winners have so successfully demonstrated.”

For a list of all the Gulf Guardian Award winners for 2004, visit the Gulf of Mexico Program web site at https://www.epa.gov/gmpo and click on the Gulf Guardian Award button.

The Gulf of Mexico Program is underwritten by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is a non-regulatory, inclusive consortium of state and federal government agencies and representatives of the business and agricultural community, fishing industry, scientists, environmentalists, and community leaders from all five Gulf States. The Gulf Program seeks to improve the environmental health of the Gulf in concert with economic development.

Editor’s Note: For more information about the Gulf Guardian Awards and the Gulf of Mexico Program, call Terry Hines Smith at 228-688-1159. For more information about the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Derelict Crab Trap Removal Program, call Harriet Perry at 228-875-5912.

Gulf of Mexico Program Office
Mail Code: EPA/GMPO
Stennis Space Center, MS 39529-6000
FAX: 228-688-2709

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