CERF's Response to GOM Oil Spill
Dear CERF Members,
Each of us has been affected directly or indirectly by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Our Gulf members are hard-pressed to do their routine field work, let alone spill-related sampling, due to demands from the press and compliancy with government regulations. We empathize with their frustration, applaud their efforts, feel intense concern for the affected ecosystems, and want to help, as does the Governing Board.
How to provide an effective CERF response that adds value, avoids duplication, and doesn’t burden members with notices and suggestions has been difficult to identify. Certainly CERF has resources, particularly experts who can be deployed to inform policy makers, agency heads and the general public in the Gulf region and in DC.
To date, CERF has
• Numerous individual members who are talking to the press, working on NOAA's Spill Advisory Board (including former President Don Boesch), and serving on National Research Council committees (and probably more that we do not know about)
• Posted a spill web site with useful information for members and the public
• Solicited members for volunteer experts to talk to the press and for those who need specific help or equipment, and posted results on spill web site
• Provided a web link to the Ecological Society of America (ESA)'s web site for Gulf of Mexico databases, to avoid duplication of efforts
• Offered NOAA the assistance of our expert members in the affected region in pre-oiling sampling. NOAA could not accept the offer due to chain-of-custody issues (same difficulty associated with post-oiling sampling)
• Worked with CASS, the newly-formed Consortium for Aquatic Scientific Societies, and in turn CASS connected with ESA, to brainstorm specific actions (CASS is just getting its feet on the ground so these efforts not resulted in actions)
• Through Estuaries & Coasts’ publishers (Springer), provided Open Access to articles on oil pollution and the Gulf of Mexico (to be launched very soon)
We want to do the right thing, but picking our message(s) and audience will dictate whether CERF brings added value to the efforts underway. What is our CERF message? Who is the target audience? Do we focus on the challenge of the restoration efforts proposed by President Obama and offer expertise on the resiliency of the ecosystems we know best? Do we convene experts on the science of dispersant use? Do we deploy members to the Gulf to inform the public about the difference between oiled and charismatic pelicans and sea turtles versus the ‘Cinderella’ organisms in the plankton? Do we address methane hydrates and oxygen depletion and mop up misinformation in the press? What has been your experience trying to work in the spill region and how could it be improved?
Our message to you is that yes we have acted and are contributing to solutions, but we are challenged as a professional society to understand the next steps. As we continue to strategize, the Presidents and Governing Board members want to know your thoughts about CERF’s response to the GOM spill. Please use the comment section on the following survey link on the spill web site: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RS7RLHQ. Alternatively, send comments to me or Joy Bartholomew (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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