GOMESA Projects Announced
Gov. Phil Bryant announced six coastal projects in mid-March totaling more than $23 million that will be funded through the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA).
In total, the State of Mississippi will receive over $27 million, including $2.3 million for Jackson County, $2.15 million for Harrison County, and $1.05 million for Hancock County. The passage in 2006 of GOMESA provides a portion of the royalties from offshore oil and gas exploration to help restore the coastal waters of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas for hurricane protection. The balance of the funds are designated for specific projects on the coast that will be overseen by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR). The six projects outlined by Governor Bryant include:
- ($4.95 million) To begin the replacement of seven stormwater outfall pipes along the sand beaches of Harrison County to reduce the overall number of stormwater outfalls.
- ($760,000) Begin construction of MDMR’s Marine Fisheries Dry Laboratory, bringing enhanced water quality analysis directly to Mississippi’s coast.
- ($1 million) Provide additional oyster cultch for repair of the diminishing oyster population. Areas to receive the cultch plant include the Western Mississippi Sound, Eastern Mississippi Sound and Biloxi Bay areas.
- ($3 million) Add 60 million oysters to the Mississippi Sound, providing stock and increasing spat over time. These oysters will be placed across the Mississippi Sound to enhance future growth of oysters in different areas.
- ($6,688,944) Funding for the tramway will compliment local and federal funds already dedicated to the project. The project will connect Jones Park to the Mississippi Aquarium Campus using emissions-free transit services and bringing new educational and recreational opportunities to the area.
- ($7 million) Ocean Enterprise Project at the Port of Gulfport will bring together state, federal, and industry partners to solve challenging problems in the area of national and homeland defense, infrastructure security, environmental monitoring, disaster response, offshore aquaculture, and habitat characterization.
The Mississippi Wildlife Federation (MWF) continues to support the use of offshore oil and gas royalties through GOMESA for conservation efforts and hopes to see an increase in these funds in future years. The efforts of GOMESA provide an important and guaranteed stream of funding for conservation and restoration projects in coastal communities. MWF continues to work with state officials to advocate for projects that have clear ecological and environmental benefits, furthering the goals of coastal conservation, restoration, and hurricane protection outlined in GOMESA.