U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, II applauded the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)'s allocation of $15.7 million for six North and Northwest Florida projects aiding the region's recovery from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Nearly $12 million will go to oyster industry restoration in Apalachicola, bird and sea turtle conservation in Bay, Gulf and Franklin counties, and fisheries stock assessments -- particularly red snapper -- along Florida's Gulf Coast.
"These relief funds are a tremendous step forward for North and Northwest Florida's coastal communities and represent the culmination of three years of teamwork," Southerland said. "I am pleased that our coastal counties will now have the resources to continue rebuilding Apalachicola's oyster industry and provide for a red snapper stock assessment critical to local fishermen who are being forced off the water by reduced seasons and outdated science. I look forward to continuing my partnership with local leaders to restore the economies and ecosystems of the counties hardest hit by the oil spill."
NFWF's Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund was created earlier this year as a vehicle to administer criminal penalties collected as a result of the settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and BP. The six Florida projects were developments in consultation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and federal resource agencies.