Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Weeks Bay Principles for Gulf Recovery

On October 4-6, 2010, ninety-five people representing forty-six
community, local, regional, national and international environmental,
social justice, and fishermen’s groups met at the Beckwith Camp and
Conference Center on Weeks Bay, Alabama. Together, we drafted the
following set of goals and principles that we believe must guide the
recovery and restoration of the Gulf of Mexico, our coast and our
communities in the wake of the BP drilling disaster.

Our Collective Goal

Six months after the BP oil disaster began, the diverse communities that
live, work, and derive benefit from the Gulf call on government to take
responsibility to:
• Make coastal communities whole again;
• Commit to cleaning up and restoring the Gulf;
• Hold BP accountable;
• Ensure local participation in decision-making;
• Conduct short and long-term monitoring; and
• Invest in economic opportunities to support locally-driven, sustainable
recovery that restores and enhances America’s Gulf coast.

The oil is still here and so are we.

Fundamental Guidelines

In all of our work together we will be guided by the following axioms:
• Build confidence and trust
• Be inclusive
• Act and communicate with full transparency
• Ground decisions in science

Community Recovery

1. Growing and diverse constituencies of Gulf residents and organizations
recognize that the future of their livelihoods depends on Gulf
restoration. Seventy-three percent of voters in Gulf coast states
support comprehensive coastal restoration*.
2. The people of the Gulf coast whose way of life and livelihood has been
most affected by the BP disaster must have a seat at the decisionmaking
3. Recovery and restoration efforts must create tens of thousands of
new jobs and provide economic opportunities to local communities,
particularly disadvantaged and distressed communities.
4. Recovery must put our communities to work restoring the Gulf and
building a healthy economy – leading America into a renewable
energy future.

Public Health

1. Tens of thousands of response workers, community members and
tourists have been exposed to oil and dispersants. There is a lack of
health care providers who are trained to identify and treat chemical
illnesses. We need the Center for Disease Control and National Institute
of Health to provide our local health care departments with the
training and resources to provide the needed health care.
2. There are still millions of gallons of oil and dispersants in the environment
– while officials tell us that the water and air are fine, people
continue to be concerned and report health symptoms. We need federal
funding for independent, ongoing and long-term monitoring of
our water, soil and air across all affected areas so we can be assured
if and when the environment is clean.
3. The Gulf Coast provides 86% of the U.S. shrimp harvest, and 56% of
the U.S. oyster harvest* – and we need better evidence that it’s safe.
Current monitoring is inadequate and does not test for toxic heavy
metals or dispersants. It does not protect our children or our most
vulnerable populations. We need the Food and Drug Administration to
set monitoring standards that can guarantee the safety of the food we
harvest and eat.

Coastal Restoration

1. The BP disaster is only the latest, most visible evidence of
environmental destruction that has been ongoing in the Gulf for
2. The government must act now to restore our coastal wetlands. A
healthy Gulf is a prosperous Gulf crucial to storm protection, fishing,
recreation, seafood and tourism – the cornerstones of the Gulf culture
and economy.
3. Eighty percent of the coastal wetlands lost in our country are lost in
the Gulf coast*. For example, Louisiana loses a football field of wetlands
every 45 minutes**, and 40% to 60% of that is attributed to oil
and gas activity***. BP and the oil and gas industry must pay their
fair share for coastal restoration.

Marine Recovery and Resiliency

1. The first step to recovery of the Gulf marine ecosystem is to identify
all sources of past, present and future environmental degradation, including
fully understanding the long-term impacts of the BP oil disaster.
Specific restoration initiatives, both short and long-term, must be
implemented to address all sources of marine injury.
2. Robust monitoring programs that fully disclose process and results, as
well as access to impacted areas, are critical for ensuring effective
3. In order to restore the entire Gulf ecosystem, it is essential that the
off-shore environment receive its fair share of attention and funding
for recovery. Specific funding sources for this work must be provided
4. Everything possible must be done to prevent offshore drilling disasters.
Reforms in policy, regulations, oversight, and enforcement are
urgently needed to prevent more drilling disasters and to guarantee
rapid, non-toxic and non-destructive response and cleanup when accidents
do occur. Policies must be implemented that transition the
Gulf region to a clean, renewable energy economy.

* Turner, R.E. 1997. Wetland loss in the Northern Gulf of Mexico: Multiple working hypotheses. Estuaries. 20:1-13
** Dahl, T.E. 2006. Status and trends of wetlands in the conterminous United States 1998 to 2004. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. p 54, Table 4.
*** Ko, Jae-Young, Impacts of Oil and Gas Activities on Coastal Wetlands Loss in the Mississippi Delta, Harter Research Institute. Also Penland, Shea, et al., Process Classification of Coastal Land Loss Between 1932 and 1990 in the Mississippi River Delta Plain, Southeastern Louisiana. (1990). U.S. Geological Survey, Open File Report 00-418.


The Weeks Bay Principles for Gulf Recovery present a unified vision that will
guide our work towards restored and healthy natural resources in the Gulf
of Mexico region that support Gulf communities and wildlife, the region’s
unique cultures, and the nation.

Drafting Organizations

Alabama Chapter, Sierra Club
Apalachicola Riverkeeper
Asian Americans for Change—
Gulf Coast Angels
Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO)
Delta Chapter (Louisiana), Sierra Club
Emerald Coastkeeper
Environment America
Equity and Inclusion Campaign
Galveston Baykeeper
Grand Bayou Community United
Guardians of the Gulf
Gulf Islands Conservancy
Gulf Restoration Network
Joe Yerkes, Florida Fisherman
Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation
Louisiana Association of Family Fishermen
Louisiana Bayoukeeper
Louisiana Environmental Action Network
Louisiana Shrimpers Association
Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper
Mississippi Center for Justice
Mississippi Chapter, Sierra Club
Mobile Baykeeper
National Wildlife Federation
Natural Resources Defense Council
Oxfam America
Sierra Club Environmental Justice
and Community Partnership Program
South Bay Communities Alliance
South Walton Community Council
Surfrider Foundation
Turkey Creek Community Initiative
Waterkeeper Alliance / Save Our Gulf

The Weeks Bay Principles for Gulf Recovery
Document prepared by:
Gulf Restoration Network
338 Baronne St, Suite 200
New Orleans, LA 70112
For more information, contact Gulf Restoration Network
at 504-525-1528 or