Grand Isle, Louisiana residents put up this memorial
naming aspects of the region damaged by the oil spill.
(Photo: Donna Hazard)
A closed beach on Grand Isle, Louisiana with an
extensive system of booms put in place to protect
nearby Barataria Bay. (Photo: Donna Hazard)
The coastal region of the Gulf of Mexico is one of the most celebrated and cherished natural spaces in the world. The people who live along the coast rely on healthy fisheries and clean beaches to sustain their way of life.
In 2008, nearly 1.3 billion pounds of finfish and shellfish were harvested in the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf produces nearly 75 percent of domestic U.S. shrimp output. However, the Gulf region only accounts for about 20 percent of all the seafood consumed in the United States. Since the U.S. imports more that 80 percent of its seafood, the Gulf only makes up about 3 percent of national seafood consumption. The state of Louisiana will be hard hit by damage to these fisheries, with an estimated annual economic impact of seafood production hovering around $2.4 billion.
Tourism is an important part of the economy of Gulf Coast towns, and businesses from hotels to sport fishing boats depend on the white sand and clear water of the Gulf. Oil-contaminated water and oil-covered beaches have been closed for health and safety reasons, significantly affecting tourism and local businesses.